28 January 2011Landmines and explosive remnants of war continue to put thousands of communities in Afghanistan at risk of death or injury, but the problem can be solved with adequate funding of the de-mining effort, a senior United Nations official said today, lauding the world body’s partnership with global transport workers to make the country’s roads safer. The challenge of ridding Afghanistan of the landmine problem will require an estimated $900 million, according to Dmitry Titov, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. “The United Nations is confident that the landmine problem can be solved in years rather that decades if sufficient funding is made available,” he stated at a ceremony in New York at which the International Road Transport Union (IRU) donated $2 million to the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) for its work in Afghanistan.Mr. Titov said more than 2,000 Afghan communities continue to be affected by landmines and explosive remnants of war, which contaminate 650 square kilometres of land across the country.Maxwell Kerley, the Director of UNMAS, said the programme has cleared 15,000 landmine-contaminated areas in Afghanistan and handed them back to local communities. The cleared area represents more than two-thirds of the affected territory, he said.“Our programme also provides employment for 14,500 Afghans and has contributed to economic progress through the de-mining of roads, railways, power lines and agriculture areas, whilst yielding substantial humanitarian benefits and saving life and limb,” Mr. Kerley said.The IRU donation will be used to fund a project to clear landmine-contaminated areas along the ring road that links Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, to northern provinces and the neighbouring States of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.