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More Australian support for Afghan demining program

I am pleased to announce funding of $500,000 for Afghanistan's demining program. This latest contribution from Australia will support landmine clearance and awareness activities in the heavily mine-infested eastern provinces of Afghanistan. This support will make a significant contribution to allowing Afghan refugees on the Pakistan border return to their homes.

Australian funds will support the work of the United Nations Mine Action Programme (UNMAP). This program was established in 1989 with Australian technical and financial assistance. Australian involvement has continued over this period with Australian Government contributions through AusAID totalling over $3.5 million since 1991. In addition, the past three directors of the demining program have been Australian.

The UNMAP is considered to be one of the most cost effective demining programs in the world. The cost of destroying a mine fell from US$300 in 1990 to US$110 in 1996.

Afghanistan is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world. Each day 10 Afghans are killed or maimed by landmines. With 90 per cent of Afghanistan's mined areas in agriculture fields, irrigation canals and grazing areas, the country's economic recovery is not possible until the mines are removed.

Since 1989, mines have been cleared from 130 square kilometres of high priority contaminated land, and 122 square kilometres of former battlefield.


Media contacts:

Innes Willox, Minister's Office, 02 6277 7500; 0411 414 695

Geoff Adlide, AusAID, 02 6206 4967; 0417 683 126