Mine menace persists in post-conflict
, toll reaches 113 Nepal
KAMAL RAJ SIGDEL
The KATHMANDU Post, OCT 16 - About 800 people have fallen victim to landmines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of November 2006. This puts
Worse, the death toll is likely to further shoot up as the de-mining process is taking much longer than estimated when the CPA was signed. The CPA (Clause 5.1.4) states that both sides (Nepal Army and the Maoists) shall assist each other and completely defuse the mines planted during the decade-long war within 60 days.
As a result of non-compliance, large areas continue to remain danger zones with undefused explosives. Not surpri-singly,
According to an INSEC report, Maoist-planted mines account for 90 percent of civilian casualties.
There is no exact data, even with the Maoists on how many mine items they have left on the fields. “It’s almost impossible to trace the mine items left on the fields, especially those planted by our combatants who were martyred, but we have destroyed most of our stockpiles,” said Chandra Prakash Khanal, a former deputy commander of Maoist combatants. According to UN Mine Action (UNMA), as of September this year, 46,850 “dangerous items” held by Maoists were destroyed.
On NA’s part, its special UNMA-trained squad has cleared 17 out of 53 landmines and 105 out of 274 IEDs. “The team has plans to clear another 19 landmines next year,” said an NA official. “There’s almost no risk so far as NA planted mines are concerned. We have identified and fenced most of them.”
Civil society groups observe that despite the alarming death toll, the parties have never prioritised this issue. “There’s no scientific mapping of the fields where IEDs may have been left,” said INSEC Chairman Subodh Pyakurel.
Government officials concede that the de-mining process is slow, but disagree that it should have been comple-ted within 60 days. “The 60-day time line was a technical mistake,” according to Salikram Sharma, under-secretary at the Ministry of Peace and a member of the steering committee on mine action. “Demining is time-consuming, it may take another two years to complete the job.” (Oct 16, TKP)