Children are playing when suddenly there is an explosion. A total of 80 per cent of the world’s land mine victims are civilians and of them 40 per cent are children. Mines and explosives are a hazard in 64 countries.
Afghanistan is one of the most heavily mined countries of the world. By the year 2017 about 80 per cent of the mined areas had already been cleared. However, the number of land mine victims has increased in recent years, a result of a continuing armed conflict and increased use of improvised explosives. Finland has supported mine clearance work in Afghanistan since 1991. Between 2008 and 2015, the non-governmental organization HALO cleared a total of 569 hectares of land for useful purposes: settlements, agriculture, pasture and roads. A total of 8 179 land mines, more than 52 000 shells and more than 3 000 bullets were destroyed.
In 2016–2020, Finland supports humanitarian mine action in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia and Ukraine. In addition to mine clearance operations, the work also involves training in mine risks, rehabilitation of land mine victims and development of local-level mine action expertise.
Photo: HALO Trust, graphics: Juho Hiilivirta