Nearly two and half decades ago, Russian forces were fighting Mujahideen and each hid landmines to destroy each other. Many of those mines are still there, and the Taliban have planted more mines since then, leaving a risk to innocent lives all over Afghanistan. Today, these mines are being cleared with the help of international support.
Various non-government organizations, some funded by the U.S. and the United Nations, are helping Afghanistan by finding the mines and defusing them. DAFA, or the Demining Agency for Afghanistan, is one of those organizations. DAFA has worked for decades to find mines and save the lives of Afghans. According to DAFA, they have defused thousands of mines in Kandahar city and surrounding districts. The officials of DAFA explained that locals request their services so that residents can use their land for agriculture and not have to live in fear of the mines.
Payu Khan Miwandi is a DAFA team leader in the Zhari district and he recently spoke with Sada-e-Azadi about the work there. He said the goal is to eventually clear the entire Kandahar province, but they have started with the most populated areas first. He said mines have injured or killed hundreds of thousands of people in the past. However, people have now returned to live safe, productive lives in the areas where DAFA has cleared.
Payu Khan explained:
“We have cleared many areas of Kandahar city and different local districts, and now we are busy in Zhari district. Right now we are in the Maqwan area, where we have five teams to find mines and defuse them. In just three days, we found fives mines that were very dangerous and could have killed people had we not cleared them.”
The people in Zhari call the DAFA teams ‘the angels of lives,’ because they are saving thousands of lives from the dangerous landmines.