+   *    +     +     
About Us 
The Issues 
Our Research Products 
Order Publications 
Press Room 
Resources for Monitor Researchers 
Email Notification Receive notifications when this Country Profile is updated.


Send us your feedback on this profile

Send the Monitor your feedback by filling out this form. Responses will be channeled to editors, but will not be available online. Click if you would like to send an attachment. If you are using webmail, send attachments to .


Last Updated: 17 December 2012

Mine Action

Contamination and Impact

In terms of mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW), Afghanistan remains one of the most contaminated countries in the world. This is mainly the result of the decade-long war of resistance that followed the Soviet invasion of 1979, the 1992–1996 internal armed conflict, and the United States (US)-led coalition’s intervention in late 2001, which added considerable quantities of unexploded ordnance (UXO).[1] The Article 5 deadline extension request prepared by the Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan (MACCA) estimated the number of remaining hazards as of November 2011 at 5,661, covering 617km2.[2] By April 2012, after further clearance and cancellation, MACCA’s estimate had greatly decreased to 571.73km2.[3]

Remaining Contamination by Device[4]

Hazard type*

Number of hazards

% of total hazards

Area (km²)

% of area


% of population








AP mine







AP/AV mine







AP/AV mine/ERW





















AV mine







AV mine/ERW




























*AIED = abandoned improvised explosive device; AP = antipersonnel; AV = antivehicle. Since submitting the Extension Request, MACCA has dropped the term ‘abandoned IEDs’ and refers only to IEDs.[5]


Afghanistan is affected by a wide array of mine types but mostly by Iranian, Pakistani, and Soviet antipersonnel mines and much smaller numbers of antivehicle mines, including Italian minimum-metal mines. Areas contaminated by antipersonnel mines account for almost half the total contaminated area and impact around 70% of Afghanistan’s total mine/ERW-affected population. Antivehicle mines pose another distinct problem. Although far fewer in number, mined areas containing only this mine-type are spread across some 254km² and the minimum metal content of most antivehicle mines further complicates detection.

However, estimates of the extent of mine contamination have fluctuated in recent years as a result of new finds by returning refugees, further survey, and an audit of data by MACCA.[6] A 2005 Landmine Impact Survey (LIS) identified some 715km2 of suspected hazardous areas (SHAs) for mines/ERW that affected 2,368 communities and more than four million people.[7] Estimates peaked at 852km2 at the end of 2007, but a year later the estimate dropped to 689km2. Afghanistan reports clearing more than 863km2 of mine and battle area in the last five years, but as a result of new finds, the overall estimate of contamination has remained close to 600km2. In April 2012, MACCA estimated antipersonnel mine contamination at 308.2km².[8]

Cluster munition remnants

Afghanistan’s Article 5 deadline extension request reports 22 remaining submunition hazards covering a total of 7.64km²,[9] contaminated with US BLU-97 submunitions.[10] US aircraft dropped 1,228 cluster munitions containing some 248,056 submunitions between October 2001 and early 2002.[11]

Improvised explosive devices and other explosive remnants of war

Afghanistan contends with extensive ERW, including unexploded aircraft bombs, artillery shells, mortars, rockets, and grenades, as well as some abandoned explosive ordnance. Most date back to the period of Soviet occupation and the ensuing civil war, but increasing conflict in recent years has resulted in additional ERW contamination.[12] The US Air Force recorded 4,896 sorties with weapons releases in 2011, albeit marginally less than the previous year (5,101).

The insurgency has also resulted in growing contamination by improvised explosive devices (IEDs); some of these are designed to be victim-activated while others are designed to be triggered by remote control. Afghanistan’s Article 5 deadline extension request identified 28 abandoned IED hazardous areas covering a total of 5.21km2 (data as of November 2011), but the full extent of the problem is not known.[13] The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Afghanistan does not disclose precise data on the types of IEDs it clears or the location of IED incidents or suspected IED hazards in contested areas.

MACCA previously applied the term “abandoned IEDs” to devices left in locations that were no longer contested. In 2012 it dropped the term “abandoned” and now reports only IEDs. As a majority of IEDs are victim-activated, MACCA records IED-contaminated areas in the database as minefields with IEDs shown in the ‘type of device’ field.[14]

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) reported that anti-government elements used IEDs “more frequently and more widely” in 2011. IED explosions recorded by the UN in 2011 were 6% higher than in 2010, with an average of 23 IED explosions every day, killing 967 civilians and injuring 1,567. This made IEDs the biggest single cause of civilian deaths, accounting for one-third of the total. Most casualties were caused by victim-activated IEDs.[15] The number of civilian casualties from IEDs dropped by 15% in the first six months of 2012; however, UNAMA reported that “most IEDs causing civilian casualties had not been directed at a specific military objective, but rather were placed routinely on civilian roadsides, resulting in indiscriminate deaths and injuries of civilians in violation of international humanitarian law. As a result, many IED incidents that resulted in civilian casualties could amount to war crimes.”[16]

ISAF, cited by UNAMA, reported that about two-thirds of the devices it deals with are victim-activated and that many have 20kg of explosive charge, double the standard charge of an antivehicle mine, but they have a trigger mechanism with the sensitivity of an antipersonnel mine.[17]

Mine Action Program

Key institutions and operators


Situation on 1 January 2012

National Mine Action Focal Point

Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA)

Mine action center

Mine Action Coordination Centre for Afghanistan (MACCA)

International demining operators

NGOs: Danish Demining Group (DDG), HALO Trust, Swiss Foundation for Demining (FSD)

Commercial: EOD Technology (EODT), G4S, RELYANT, RONCO Corporation

National demining operators

NGO: Afghan Technical Consultants (ATC), Demining Agency for Afghanistan (DAFA), Mine Clearance Planning Agency (MCPA), Mine Detection and Dog Centre (MDC), Organization for Mine Clearance and Afghan Rehabilitation (OMAR)

Commercial: Afghan Campaign for Landmines, Afghan Greenfield Demining, Asda Brothers Demining Company, Country Mine Clearance Company, Hemayatbrothers Demining International, Kabul Mine Clearance Company, Kardan Demining Group, Kawoon Demining Co., Koshan Mine Action, Nasir Mine Clearance Co., National Demining Support Services, Nejat Demining Co., Storm Afghanistan Demining Co., Starlight Afghan Demining Co., Standfard Demining Co., Salam Mine Clearance Co., Titan Demining Group, and Wahdat Demining Co.

International risk education operators

Association for Aid and Relief Japan, Danish Demining Group (DDG), Handicap international (HI), Mobile Mini Circus for Children

National risk education operators

Government: Ministry of Education

NGO: Afghan Red Crescent Society, OMAR

The Mine Action Programme of Afghanistan (MAPA), set up by the UN in 1989 and coordinated by MACCA,[18] is a project of the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) implemented by the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS); until 2012 it was under international management. From 1 April 2012, MACCA came under Afghan management supported by an UNMAS project office, providing technical advice; administering donor funds provided for clearance and coordination through the UN Voluntary Trust Fund (VTF); and monitoring and evaluating project implementation [19]

As of January 2012, MACCA had eight international staff members and 339 national staff members. From April 2012, no international staff remained in MACCA and UNMAS expected the number of international staff in its project office to fall to four by March 2013.[20]

MACCA’s restructuring is taking place within the context of a broader transition of mine action from the UN to the government. Until 2008, Afghanistan had “entrusted interim responsibility” for coordinating mine action to the UN.[21] In 2008, a government interministerial board assigned the lead role in mine action to the Department of Mine Clearance (DMC), a department of the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA), which reports to the Office of the Second Vice President.[22] The DMC moved its offices into MACCA’s Kabul headquarters in May 2008 and, as of March 2012, had 13 civil servants occupying posts partnering MACCA staff.[23]

DMC participation in these posts was seen as a step towards developing DMC capacity to match the mine action expertise of MACCA’s Afghan staff and take up a management role. However, Afghanistan’s Article 5 deadline extension request notes that “it has gradually been accepted by the government, the UN and other stakeholders that this is not possible and a better way forward would be to find modalities to absorb a reduced MACCA structure into the civil service or to create a new structure within the government for the specific management of mine action.”[24]

MACCA continues to coordinate planning and delivery of mine action, to set priorities, and to maintain a national database of hazards recording the results of humanitarian mine action while also advocating for donor support.[25] It has seven sub-offices called Area Mine Action Centers (AMACs)[26] to coordinate and monitor mine and ERW clearance activities in the provinces and also to liaise with other UN and international agencies, government departments, and Provincial Reconstruction Teams.[27]

Since 2009, MACCA has shifted its role from assigning clearance tasks for implementing partners (IPs) to focus instead on oversight, strategic planning, and coordinating operations while encouraging IPs to plan and manage tasks within the strategic framework.[28] MACCA now provides IPs with a list of planning criteria, priorities, and a dataset of hazards. Funds provided through the VTF are allocated to specific projects. IPs submit work plans to MACCA setting out the tasks they propose to undertake. MACCA assesses and, where necessary, negotiates amendments to these plans with IPs to ensure they address MACCA priorities, achieve a geographic balance, and avoid duplication or overlap. MACCA tells donors and IPs that “an output reported only in terms of square meters cleared is not … acceptable.”[29]

Afghanistan’s mine action program for the 11 years to March 2023 is set down in the Article 5 deadline Extension Request submitted in March 2012. The request provides for clearing all antivehicle mines and ERW hazards as well as antipersonnel mines. It consolidates the 5,661 remaining mine and ERW hazards into 314 projects, an approach intended to facilitate monitoring of progress and resource mobilization. Projects will be tackled according to their priority as determined by their impact, measured against a set of impact indicators.[30]

The request plans for 94 of the tasks to be tackled in the first two years,[31] underlining how clearance is heavily frontloaded in the initial years of the extension period. According to its clearance milestones, almost three-quarters (72%) of antipersonnel mine hazards covering 55% of the antipersonnel-mine-affected areas will be cleared by 2015, the third year of the extension period, together with 52% of antivehicle mine hazards covering almost one-third of antivehicle-mine-affected land, and 85% of battle area hazards covering 73% of battle-area-type land.[32]

Land Release

Despite escalating insurgency in many parts of the country, MAPA released a total of 181km² through mine and battle area clearance (BAC) in 2011, 6.5% more than the previous year. Eight humanitarian organizations accounted for almost all mined area clearance as well as more than 70% of battle area hazards.

Five-year summary of clearance[33]


Mined area cleared (km2)

Battle area cleared (km2)



















Increased productivity was helped by financial support that allowed the program’s staffing to increase to 14,764, up from around 14,000 the previous year. MACCA recorded total funding of US$132.6 million for the Afghan year 1390 (April 2011 to March 2012), including approximately $20 million in multi-year funding that would be used in Afghan year 1391. A further $45 million was for commercial operators and MACCA expected the commercial figure to rise.[34]

However, operators expressed concern that funding appeared likely to decline with the accelerating departure of international forces in 2013, and this will necessitate cuts in manpower.[35] HALO Trust, the biggest operator in Afghanistan, expected to reduce the number of clearance teams by 37 from 161 to 124 in 2012 because of reduced funding.[36]

Most mine clearance is conducted by five long-established national and two international NGOs. The Afghan NGOs are Afghan Technical Consultants (ATC), Demining Agency for Afghanistan (DAFA), Mine Clearance Planning Agency (MCPA), Mine Detection and Dog Centre (MDC), and Organization for Mine Clearance and Afghan Rehabilitation (OMAR); the two international NGOs are Danish Demining Group (DDG) and HALO.[37] Three more demining NGOs were accredited in 2011, including Mines Advisory Group, the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action, and the Organization for Project Service in Afghanistan.[38]

Ten new Afghan commercial companies were accredited with MACCA in 2011: Afghan Greenfield Demining (AGD), Kawoon Demining Co. (KDC), Koshan Mine Action (KMA), Nasir Mine Clearance Co. (NMCC), Nejat Demining Co. (NDC), Storm Afghanistan Demining Co., Starlight Afghan Demining Co. (SADC), Standard Demining Co. (SDC), Dalam Mine Clearance Co. (SMCC), and Wahdat Demining Co. (WDC).[39]

Survey in 2011

HALO had nine survey teams working in 2011 which identified 542 new mined areas, covering 32.09km², and 90 battle areas, covering 44.1km², most of it in the Panjshir Valley in areas that were not covered by the 2003 Afghan LIS. HALO believes mined areas identified in the Panjshir Valley’s Khawak Pass are the last antipersonnel mined areas of “truly significant size” remaining in Afghanistan. Survey teams also resurveyed 197 mined areas, resulting in cancellation of 11.79km² and five battle areas resulting in cancellation of 1.7km². Through additional survey, HALO teams cancelled 56 mined areas covering 10.37km² and 99 battlefields over 101.54km². The net result of HALO’s survey activity was to add 486 mined areas covering 9.94km² to the database of contaminated areas and to remove nine battle areas covering 59.16km².[40]

MCPA operated 13 ‘Landmine Impact Assessment Teams’ (LIATs) and reported they conducted polygon surveys on 12.35km² and post-clearance impact assessments on a further 14.5km².[41]

In view of the extensive cancellation of hazards and new discoveries of mined areas in recent years, MACCA committed in its Article 5 deadline Extension Request to undertake a non-technical survey (NTS) of the whole country, including communities that previous survey indicated did not have any ERW. The “Mine and ERW Impact Free Community Survey,” conducted mainly by teams from HALO and MCPA (the two operators with most experience and survey capacity), started in April 2012 and is planned to take two years to complete. All survey teams will have explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) capacity to conduct spot clearance of most types of UXO and will call teams with enhanced capacity to deal with any UXO they are unable to dispose of. Uncertain funding meant it was unclear what capacity would be available to implement the survey. MACCA said it required at least 35 teams but as of May planned for 17 teams from HALO and 12 from MCPA (while also reporting that DDG could provide three survey teams).[42]

In response to the shortfall, HALO and MCPA conducted training in NTS on behalf of MACCA for senior operations staff of ATC, DAFA, MDC, OMAR and Sterling International to enable the EOD capacity of these organizations to participate in the survey.[43]

MACCA expected teams to survey 10 affected and 40 unaffected communities each month. It also planned to retain three survey teams in each of Afghanistan’s seven regions throughout the plan period to conduct regular survey of recorded hazards, assess new requests for clearance, conduct assessments needed for large development projects, and respond to EOD call-outs.[44]

The survey will fulfill a number of other objectives. Unlike previous surveys, it aims to cover all 32,448 officially-defined communities in Afghanistan and to progress towards an end state by getting communities with no known hazard to sign a statement to that effect, drawing on the experience of HALO’s completion initiative in Mozambique. The survey also provides setting up community focal points to open lines of communication in the event of subsequent ERW finds. MACCA has established a telephone hotline and email address for communities to report ERW hazards or casualties.[45]

Completion of the survey in two years, however, will be challenged by issues of access and security and also by the discovery of more communities than those in the official listings, an issue already encountered by HALO and MCPA in the initial months of the survey.[46] Implementing partners involved in the survey meet monthly to review progress and address any issues arising.

Mine clearance in 2011

After substantial increases in capacity and productivity in 2010, mine clearance rate stayed level in 2011, with the amount of land cleared marginally up (0.1%), while the number of antipersonnel mines destroyed fell by about the same amount.

Mine clearance in 2011[47]


Mined area cleared (km2)

Antipersonnel mines destroyed

Antivehicle mines destroyed

UXO destroyed





























































ATC, DAFA, and MCPA reported increased productivity in 2011 but all other IPs saw their clearance rate level or slightly reduce. After a significant rise in capacity and clearance results in 2010, HALO operated with significantly fewer staff in 2011 (3,600 at the end of 2011, down from 3,724 a year earlier), and cleared slightly less mined areas. HALO noted that, due to the security concerns, it was unable to operate in Samangan and Kunduz provinces where it has traditionally worked; instead, HALO concentrated resources in other areas of the north. In these areas, progress was slowed by high levels of metal contamination.[48]

One-fifth of known mine hazards representing 43% of mine-contaminated land are in areas ranked by the UN Department of Safety and Security as highly or extremely insecure, but MAPA operated in districts in every region of the country, including areas inaccessible to international organizations, as a result of their perceived political neutrality. In areas too insecure even for the Afghan IPs’ core staff, IPs supported so-called community-based demining (CBD). MACCA reported that the number of CBD teams increased from 137 in 2010 to 167 in 2011, operated by ATC, DAFA, MCPA, MDC and OMAR. In 2011, they accounted for US$24.57 million, almost one-fifth of humanitarian mine action spending.[49] Some IPs acknowledge difficulties in monitoring and managing CBDs, but an additional concern is the inclination in some communities to treat minefields as an economic and job creation opportunity.[50]

After delays over contract negotiations, the commercial demining firm EOD Technology (EODT) started work on a United Arab Emirates-funded project designed to clear Kandahar, one of Afghanistan’s most conflicted provinces, of all high- and medium-priority hazards within two years ending in November 2013. The project involves clearing 216 hazards estimated to cover a total of 25.27km². As of March 2012, MACCA reported it had cleared 0.88km², destroying five antipersonnel mines and 3,096 ERW.[51] However, operational start-up proved challenging because of difficulties encountered in recruiting clearance staff in local communities and security. A senior Afghan staff member was shot dead in Kandahar city in 2011, and EODT is unable to access two of the province’s 10 districts because of security problems. The project had targeted clearing 1km² a month but had been achieving 0.3km² to 0.4km².[52]

Among projects contracted by UNOPS in 2010, OMAR ended work in Ghazni City in December 2011 after clearing 29 hazards covering 3.27km² and destroying 101 antipersonnel mines, 71 antivehicle mines, and 8,073 items of UXO. ATC also completed a one-year, US$3 million project clearing 44 priority hazards covering 2.34km² as the first phase of a Kabul City Clearance Plan, designed to finally remove all hazards from the capital and free land for its rapidly expanding population. Plans for a second phase, focused on 26 medium and low priority hazards covering 1.53km², were awaiting funding.[53]

MDC and DAFA continued clearance of abandoned IEDs at Nowzad in Helmand province under a US-funded project to clear 7km² using community-based demining teams which was started in April 2010. After two years, MDC reported the project had destroyed 430 IEDs, 101 antipersonnel mines, 25 antivehicle mines, and more than 2,330 ERW, opening the way for civilian resettlement. DAFA won a second contract in 2012, also US-funded, for clearance at Kajaki in Helmand province, the location of a hydroelectric dam, which also involved clearance of abandoned IEDs as well as other ERW; as of May, DAFA had started training community-based teams for demining and EOD.[54]

Compliance with Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty

Under Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty, Afghanistan is required to destroy all antipersonnel mines in mined areas under its jurisdiction or control as soon as possible, but not later than 1 March 2013.

In March 2012, Afghanistan submitted a request for a 10-year extension to its Article 5 deadline which set a precedent by committing itself on humanitarian grounds to clear not just antipersonnel mines as required by the treaty but all antivehicle mines and ERW, which MACCA reports accounts for 80% of accidents. The request states that “the target for Afghanistan to reach Ottawa Convention compliance is clearance of 4,151 AP [antipersonnel] minefields covering 306.81km2. From a humanitarian perspective, Afghanistan cannot focus only on AP removal at the expense of AT [antitank] and BF [battlefield] removal. There are AT minefields and BF with a higher priority for clearance than some AP minefields. Therefore, 1,319 AT minefields covering 253.9km2 and 191 ERW contaminated areas (BF) covering 56.27km2 are also included in the work plan.”[55]

Remaining contamination[56]

Contamination type

No of areas

% of total

Area (km²)

% of total area

Antipersonnel mines





Antivehicle mines















The work plan, prepared in consultation with and endorsed by all IPs, concentrates clearance in the early years of the extension period. It provides for removing 1,137 hazards and releasing 92.17km² in Afghan Year 1391 (2012–2013), substantially less than in 2011, dropping to removal of 188 hazards and release of 32.29km² in 1401 (2022–2023). Budget estimates similarly drop from US$86.2 million in 1391 to $45.5 million in Year 1401. The request clarifies the number of clearance teams needed for the different hazardous areas (whether from antipersonnel mines, antivehicle mines, and ERW), and plans for the total to drop from 626 teams in the first year to 250 in the last. MACCA believes the clearance targets are conservative and that although Afghanistan is one of the most heavily contaminated countries, it may be possible with sustained international financial support to complete clearance of all mine and ERW hazards before the extension deadline.[57]

Though the ICBL concluded the plan is among the most thorough and comprehensive extension requests yet submitted to the Meeting of States Parties, it also concluded that the plan represents a best-case scenario. Sustained funding for both the clearance role and MACCA’s important coordinating role are uncertain because international forces are preparing to start pulling out of Afghanistan in 2014. Other key challenges include high levels of insecurity, continuing new finds of legacy minefields, and the transition to national ownership in a period of political transition for Afghanistan.[58]

Contamination by victim-activated IEDs is a growing issue for Afghanistan’s mine action program presented by the insurgency; these IEDs are recognized by UNAMA and MACCA as antipersonnel mines and are therefore part of Afghanistan’s Article 5 clearance obligations.[59] It is uncertain who will clear them. MACCA, following UNMAS safety guidelines, distinguishes between “operational” IEDs in areas of conflict and “remnants.” If an IP has appropriate training and equipment, MACCA considers it acceptable for an IP to undertake IED clearance provided sufficient time has passed between the time an IED was laid and the clearance; this waiting period is to avoid compromising the partner’s neutrality.[60]

Most civilian mine action organizations, humanitarian and commercial, believe that primary responsibility for IED clearance lies with security forces and that current UNMAS guidelines are inadequate. As mentioned above, MACCA and the implementing partners see a risk that involvement in any IED clearance would undermine their perceived neutrality, expose them to attack by anti-government elements, and curtail access to areas where they can now operate. Moreover, information held by security forces on the locations of, types of, and disarming procedures for IEDs is classified and not accessible to civilian demining organizations. The US has spent tens of millions of dollars training Afghan National Army and Police in IED disposal but capacity remains insufficient; with the approaching withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan, the US started promoting the idea of implementing partner engagement in IED clearance in 2012.[61]

 Clearance of cluster munition contaminated areas in 2011

MACCA reported no clearance of cluster munitions in 2011. HALO reported that known cluster munition tasks in its operating area were in the areas of the northeast that were inaccessible due to security problems.[62] RONCO reported its operators had found an old cache of 200 barrels of cluster munitions buried at Kabul International Airport.[63]

Compliance with Article 4 of the Convention on Cluster Munitions

Under Article 4 of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, Afghanistan is required to destroy all cluster munition remnants in areas under its jurisdiction or control as soon as possible, but not later than 1 March 2022.

MACCA estimates submunitions contaminate a total of 7.64km².[64] The request Afghanistan submitted for an extension to its Mine Ban Treaty Article 5 deadline provides for clearance of all ERW, including submunitions, by 2020.[65]

Battle area clearance in 2011

Total battle area clearance (BAC), conducted mainly by 10 humanitarian organizations, was slightly higher in 2011 than the previous year, but the number of UXO items destroyed was only one-third of the number in 2010. That reflected a sharp drop in UXO destroyed by HALO, which had accounted for 45% of all UXO cleared through BAC in 2010, partly because HALO reduced their BAC and EOD teams and partly because some of the remaining teams were used on a surface and sub-surface sampling project in the second half of the year. However, all operators recorded lower clearance of items.

Three international commercial operators, G4S, RONCO and RELYANT, accounted for more than three-quarters of the total BAC reported by 16 commercial companies. G4S continued to work as a subcontractor to ECC International on a contract for expansion of the US base at Bagram (expected to run to the end of 2012), but commercial operators expect the approaching withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan will cut back much of the work related to military and police base development that has sustained commercial companies in recent years. RONCO, undertaking a contract for the US Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) until March 2011, had already reduced staff from around 1,000 in 2011 to a little over 100 by May 2012.[66]

Battle area clearance in 2011[67]


BAC (km²)

UXO destroyed

Antipersonnel mines destroyed

Antivehicle mines destroyed
























































Humanitarian subtotal


























































































Commercial subtotal










Dyncorps International, working under contract to the US Department of State, operated seven 12-member EOD teams doing village-by-village clearance of UXO, tasked by MACCA’s AMACs and responding to local calls until the end of March 2012. From April, management of the teams was taken up by Sterling International, which deployed six teams to provinces, with a seventh standing by for deployment where requested.[69]

Quality management

Every IP is believed to have internal quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) mechanisms. MACCA has conducted external quality assurance through a three-person unit in Kabul and 40 staff located in the seven regional AMACs offices monitoring the work of IPs through site visits. MACCA reported that external QA visits have averaged more than 3,000 a year since 2006. In 2012, MACCA has reduced its staffing of AMACs, resulting in less on-site visits and placing more emphasis on monitoring and evaluation of IPs’ standards and operations through quarterly reviews of each project and procedures for renewing accreditation. MACCA has also developed a separate standard for investigating incidents.[70]

Since 2009, MACCA has operated a “balanced scorecard” measuring the performance of IPs on a quarterly basis against a set of four indicators (operations, quality management, demining accidents, and reporting) for assessing demining operations and three indicators (operations, quality management, and reporting) for risk education (RE). Data on performance drawn from the IMSMA database is shared with IPs who then confirm the score.[71]

Safety of demining personnel

MACCA reported 22 demining casualties among seven humanitarian operators and one commercial company, G4S, in 2011. The casualties included four fatalities, two of them deminers working for DDG and two for MDC. Two MDC deminers from a community-based team were killed in separate incidents clearing abandoned IEDs at Nowzad in southwestern Helmand province in January 2012. An accident investigation said that in one incident the deminer had detonated an abandoned IED by working with a pick axe instead of a bayonet while not wearing a visor but concluded the main contributing factor was inadequate supervision by the demining team’s command group.[72]

Two copper mine laborers were injured in December 2011 by the explosion of a fuze that had been missed on a site cleared by MDC.[73]

Insurgency and banditry continued to pose the main threat to the safety of deminers in 2011, when 13 personnel were killed and 33 injured in 43 security incidents and a total of 227 mine action staff were abducted, of whom 222 were later released. A range of equipment was lost in those incidents, including 14 vehicles and 83 mine detectors, along with mobile phones, GPS devices and cameras.[74] Among the security incidents in 2011, five DAFA deminers were killed in an attack in western Farah province in July when anti-government elements abducted 31 staff. Two other DAFA staff were killed in Kandahar and Helmand provinces. An MDC staff member was killed in a shooting incident in Logar, an Afghan staff member of EODT was shot dead in Kandahar City, and a HALO driver was killed in Kapisa province in November 2011 when a 107mm rocket hit the vehicle in which he was sleeping.[75]

Risk Education

Mine/ERW RE is coordinated by MACCA according to plans drawn up by the Ministry of Education, MACCA, and the DMC, focusing on developing long term, community-based RE. MACCA assigns communities priority for RE according to a set of indicators giving the highest score to areas with recent casualties. The Ministry of Education has already adopted RE in the school curriculum for grades 7 and above, and schools have RE committees that include teachers, parents, and students. MACCA and the Ministry of Education coordinate training of teachers; by the end of 2011 nearly 20,000 teachers had been trained. The Ministry of Education has established focal points in 20 provinces to provide RE training to teachers, parents and students and has launched an additional initiative in June 2011 calling on schools to contribute to reporting of casualties. The Ministry of Education and AAR Japan also broadcast RE messages on radio and television.[76]

MACCA aims to integrate RE into the activities of key governmental and social organizations; since 2010, MACCA has also been working with the ministries of religious affairs, and information and culture, and the National Solidarity Programme of the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development to strengthen delivery and public reach of RE messages.[77]

MACCA has also started to address the issues of IEDs in RE materials, although given the political/security sensitivity of the issue, materials do not refer to IEDs but to “suspicious objects.” Distribution of kits containing action cards and posters to schools in Kabul and to centers for returnees started on a trial basis.[78]

A 2012 study of RE recommended that priority should be given to community mine action liaison that focuses on all aspects of mine action, not on delivering either RE or clearance. The study found that communities have shown a desire and capacity to spread RE and noted that mass media campaigns, although effective in raising the profile of an issue, do not produce lasting behavioral change and are very expensive. It said all deminers should be trained to share basic RE messages when interacting with communities and that RE trainers and local volunteers should be kept informed of local clearance activity. The study found that communities had a high level of trust in deminers, and that threats and attacks on deminers are not a result of broad-based dissatisfaction but “driven by financial incentives, political motivations, and a general opposition to ‘outsiders’ or ‘unknowns.’”[79]


[1] “Explosive remnants of war and mines other than anti-personnel mines,” Landmine Action, London, March 2005, p. 14.

[2] Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 29 March 2012, p. 165.

[4] Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 29 March 2012, p. 165.

[5] Email from MACCA, 16 August 2012. Renamed with effect from l January 2009, MACCA was formerly known as the UN Mine Action Center for Afghanistan (UNMACA).

[6] Ibid., 16 August 2011.

[7] Patrick Fruchet and Mike Kendellen, “Landmine Impact Survey Afghanistan: results and implications for planning,” Journal of Mine Action, Issue 9.2, February 2006.

[8] “Mine Action Programme of Afghanistan March/April 2012 Newsletter,” undated but April 2012, p. 4.

[9] Article 5 deadline Extension Request, p. 165.

[10] Email from MACCA, 16 August 2012.

[11] Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action, “Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice,” Mines Action Canada, May 2009, p. 27.

[12] Interviews with MACCA Chief of Staff, in Geneva, 19 March 2010; and with demining operators, Kabul, 12 18 June 2010.

[13] Article 5 deadline Extension Request, p. 165.

[14] Email from MACCA, 16 August 2012.

[15] “Afghanistan, Annual Report 2011, Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict,” UNAMA, February 2012, pp. 2−3 & 16.

[16] “Afghanistan, Mid-Year Report 2012, Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict,” UNAMA, July 2012, p. 3.

[17] UNAMA, “Afghanistan, Annual Report 2011, Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict,” February 2012, p. 16.

[18] The Centre was established in 1989 as the UN Mine Action Centre for Afghanistan (UNMACA) and in 2009 renamed the Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan (MACCA). For details of the history and structure of mine action in Afghanistan see, Afghanistan Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 29 March 2012, pp. 50−68.

[19] Interviews with Alan MacDonald, Program Director, MACCA, in Geneva, 23 March 2012; and with Abigail Hartley, Program Manager, UNMAS, Kabul, 7 May 2012.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar 2008), Form A.

[22] Email from MACCA, 16 August 2011; and interview with Abdul Haq Rahim, Director, DMC, Kabul, 26 May 2008.

[23] Email from MACCA, 23 March 2012.

[24] Article 5 deadline Extension Request, p. 65.

[25] MAPA, “1390 Integrated Operational Framework,” MACCA, December 2010, p. 12. Thus, commercial clearance, which MACCA does not contract directly, and demining by the ISAF are both outside of its purview.

[26] AMACs are located in in Gardez (Southeast), Herat (West), Jalalabad (East), Kabul (Central), Kandahar (South), Kunduz (Northeast), and Mazar-e-Sharif (North).

[27] MACCA, “About MAPA and MACCA,” MACCA website, www.macca.org.af.

[28] MAPA, “Integrated Operational Framework” for 1389 and 1390, MACCA, December 2009, p. 44, and December 2010, pp. 11−12; “1390 Integrated Operational Framework”; and interviews with MACCA Chief of Staff, 19 March and 21 June 2010.

[29] Interview with Chief of Operations, MACCA, 15 June 2010; and MAPA, “1389 Integrated Operational Framework,” MACCA, December 2009, p. 7; “1390 Integrate d Operating Framework,” December 2010, p. 13.

[30] The Extension Request puts 336 hazards covering 69.09km in rank (priority) 1, including 233 minefields, covering 31.8km2; 650 hazards covering 96.81km2 in rank 2; and 925 hazards covering 98.54km2 in rank 3.

[31] Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 29 March 2012, p. 181; and interview with Abigail Hartley, UNMAS, 7 May 2012.

[32] Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 29 March 2012, p. 194.

[33] Data supplied annually by MACCA. Data for 2011 provided by email from MACCA, 23 March 2012.

[34] Email from MACCA, 16 August 2012.

[35] Interviews with Implementing Partners, Kabul, 6−15 May 2012.

[36] Response to Landmine Monitor questionnaire by, and interview with, Farid Homayoun, Country Director, and Calvin Ruysen, Operations Officer, HALO Trust, Kabul, 12 May 2012.

[37] Email from MACCA, 10 May 2011.

[38] Ibid., 23 March 2012.

[39] Ibid.

[40] Response to Monitor questionnaire by, and interview with, Farid Homayoun and Calvin Ruysen, HALO Trust, Kabul, 12 May 2012.

[41] Email from Haji Attiqullah, Director, MCPA, 11 May 2012.

[42] Interview with MACCA, Kabul, 7 May 2012.

[43] Emails from MACCA, 16 August 2012; and from Tim Porter, HALO Trust, 28 August 2012.

[44] Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 29 March 2012, pp. 187−189; and interview with MACCA, Kabul, 7 May 2012.

[45] Email from MACCA, 16 August 2012.

[46] Interviews with Alan MacDonald, Programme Director, MACCA, Geneva, 27 March 2012; and with MACCA, Kabul, 7 May 2012; and Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 29 March 2012, pp. 187−189.

[47] Email from MACCA, 23 March 2012.

[48] Ibid.; and Response to Landmine Monitor questionnaire by, and interview with, Farid Homayoun and Calvin Ruysen, HALO Trust, Kabul, 12 May 2012.

[49] Email from MACCA, 23 March 2012; and interview with Abigail Hartley, UNMAS, Kabul, 7 May 2012.

[50] Interviews with IPs and MACCA, Kabul, 6−15 May 2012.

[51] Email from MACCA, 23 March 2012.

[52] Telephone interview with Donald MacDonald, Project Manager Kandahar, EODT, 23 May 2012.

[53] Email from MACCA, 23 March 2012; interview with Abigail Hartley, UNMAS, 7 May 2012; and Mohammad Akhbar Oriakhil, “Kabul City Clearance Project,” Journal of ERW and Mine Action, Issue 15.3, Fall 2011.

[54] Interviews with IPs, Kabul, 6−15 May 2012; and with Mohammad Daud Farahi, Executive Manager, DAFA, Kabul, 6 and 15 May 2012.

[55] Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 29 March 2012, p. 6.

[56] Ibid., p. 154.

[57] Interviews with MACCA, Kabul, 6−15 May 2012.

[58] ICBL Critique on Afghanistan Article 5 Extension Request, undated but March 2012.

[59] UNAMA, “Afghanistan, Annual Report 2011, Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict,” February 2012, p. 16; and Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 29 March 2012, p. 69.

[60] Interview with MACCA, Kabul, 9 May 2012; and email from MACCA, 16 August 2012.

[61] Interviews with IP and commercial mine action organizations, Kabul 6−15 May 2012.

[62] Email from MACCA, 23 March 2012; and response to Monitor questionnaire by, and interview with, Farid Homayoun and Calvin Ruysen, HALO, Kabul, 12 May 2012.

[63] Interview with Chris North, Country Manager, and Ricky Nelson, RONCO, Kabul, 12 May 2012.

[64] Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 29 March 2012, p. 165.

[65] Ibid., p. 194.

[66] Interview with Chris North and Ricky Nelson, RONCO, Kabul 12 May 2012.

[67] Email from MACCA, 23 March 2012.

[68] HALO reported destroying a total of 48,149 items of UXO, 41,368 through BAC and 6,781 in roving EOD tasks. In the course of BAC it also reported destroying 178 submunitions. Response to Monitor questionnaire by, and interview with, Farid Homayoun and Calvin Ruysen, HALO, Kabul, 12 May 2012.

[69] Interview with Adam Wheeler, Country Manager, Sterling International, Kabul, 10 May 2012.

[70] Interview with MACCA, Kabul, 7 and 9 May 2012; and Article 5 deadline Extension Request, pp. 104−112.

[71] MACCA, “MACCA balanced scorecard,” Kabul, 6 May 2010; and email from MACCA, 16 August 2011.

[72] Email from MACCA, 18 October 2012; and MACCA, “Naz Zad CBDT-18 Demining Accident,” undated but March 2012.

[73] MACCA, “MDC DT-04 Missed Device Accident,” undated but February 2012.

[74] Email from MACCA, 23 March 2012.

[75] Ibid.; email from Mohammad Daud Farahi, Executive Manager, DAFA, 7 April 2012; Response to Monitor questionnaire by, and interview with, Farid Homayoun and Calvin Ruysen, HALO, Kabul, 12 May 2012; Samuel Hall Consulting, “Community-based approaches for improving MRE [mine risk education] and perceptions of deminers,” prepared for MACCA, undated but 2012.

[76] Interview with MACCA, Kabul, 14 May 2012; email from MACCA, 16 August 2012; and Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 29 March 2012, pp. 121−133.

[77] Ibid.

[78] Ibid.

[79] Samuel Hall Consulting, “Community-based approaches for improving MRE [mine risk education]and perceptions of deminers,” prepared for MACCA, undated but 2012.