Almost 2,500 landmines were found and disarmed in Tajikistan in the last three years
More than 277,000 square meters of territory in Tajikistan were swept of landmines in 2006. Rajabov, Chief of the Tajik Government Center for Landmines, refuses to call it a day though as long as people keep dying in explosions. Russian bomb squads were helping Tajikistan with mine-sweeping only recently, but that is history now. This is the sole sphere of responsibility of the Government Center for Landmines established in 2003 within the framework of the accord between the government of Tajikistan and the UN Development Program.
Establishment of the Center was necessitated by abundance of minefields left in Tajikistan by the armed conflict. Landmines pose a direct threat to noncombatants and have an adverse effect on national economy in general. A great deal of farm lands cannot be used - the lands that once served for the purposes of cultivation of crops and grazing. These days, however, even road construction requires that the area be checked for landmines first. Turkish road-builders in Gorny Badakhshan regularly encounter this problem.
Landmines and unexploded shells are frequently discovered in the course of mining operations and geological surveys. A lot of industrial sites, power transmission lines, and highway are to be built in Tajikistan soon. The strain on the Center will therefore increase.
Minefields were set by both sides in the past armed conflict. Predictably enough, maps do not exist or haven't survived. Western and northern regions of the country like the Sogdi region are where landmines are happened on more frequently than elsewhere. According to the data compiled by the Center, nearly 600 citizens of Tajikistan have suffered already. Some of them perished in the explosions, others got away with wounds of varying severity only to become amputees...
The Center is being financed within the framework of the UN Development Program. There is no information as yet on how much will be set aside for the Center in 2007. The UN Development Program stipulates ten projects in Tajikistan with the total costs exceeding $5 million.
Specialists say that 25 million square meters of the Tajik territory have to be swept of landmines yet. So far, the Center has made more than 463,000 square meters safe. Its specialists disarmed 2,459 antipersonnel and 3 antitank mines and 767 unexploded shells.
A signatory of the international convention banning landmines and booby-traps, Tajikistan destroyed all antipersonnel mines (about 3,000 of them) in March 2004. The republic has no antipersonnel mines in its arsenals anymore.
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Krasnaya Zvezda, March 30, 2007, p. 3
© Translated by Ferghana.Ru