Demining work gets underway

Kathmandu, December 9:

Nepal Army and United Nations Mine Action Team have recommended demining in Jaalbhanjyang, Tanahun district and Kopche, in the eastern region of Nepal, after a five-month monsoon break

The NA engineers were redeployed early this month to make Nepal a landmine impact free country within the next three years.

The mines in Jaalbhanjyang were originally laid on a steep hillside by the army to protect a strategic telecommunications tower during the decade-long armed conflict, said the statement. “The minefield has already claimed the life of a 10-year-old boy and injured a deminer.”

Once the mines are cleared, 150 locals will be able to use the land for grazing their cattle. The clearance would also allow access to the temple adjacent to the tower, it stated.

Five minefields have been cleared in Nepal during 2008. There are 48 military pattern minefields remaining, as well as a number of protective fields consisting of improvised explosive devices, it added.

The minefields are needed to clear for both humanitarian reasons, and as required by the Comprehensive Peace Accord and the Agreement on Monitoring the Management of Arms and Armies.

“The NA is rapidly developing the skills and expertise for mine clearance.

Ultimately, Nepal Army has the potential to apply these skills to benefit the international community as deployed by the United Nations deminers in other mine-afflicted countries, such as Sudan,” the statement quoted Stephen Robinson, programme manager of UN-MAT.

UNICEF and UNMAT expect to develop their Nepali counterparts within next two to three years.

The Nepal government should then be able to address the residual explosive remnants contamination with minimal UN support, the statement added.