Landmines being defused nationwide, says Poudel

Kathmandu, August 22:

The government has started the work of identifying, mapping, fencing and marking landmines in different parts of the country, planted during the decade-long insurgency, said Ram Chandra Poudel,

Minister for Peace and Reconstruction, today.

The government had formed a directional and technical committee under the coordination of Poudel on June 21 to start mine action works. Poudel, speaking at a National Conference on Landmines organised by Ban Landmines Campaign Nepal (NCBL), said the committee has started identifying, defusing and excavating the landmines.

He also urged the Nepali army, Maoists, experts and related organisations to help in the committee’s work to minimise the probable death and destruction due to landmines.

Purna Shova Chirakar, coordinator of the NCBL, said over 26,000 people have been handicapped due to the landmines and almost 14,00 have lost their lives in the last 12 years. She accused the government and the political parties of lacking dedication to tackle the risk posed by landmines.

In the peace accord signed on November 22, 2006, the government and the Maoists had expressed commitment to assist each other to mark the landmines by providing necessary information within 30 days and de-fuse and excavate them within 60 days. But the commitment is yet to be implemented.

United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Matthew Kahane said there is an urgent need to destroy the landmines. He added that the government should address the problems of those injured and handicapped by the landmines.

Tamrat Samuel, deputy special representative of the Secretary General, called for the formulation of a mine action policy. He called for the protection of rights of those injured and handicapped by the landmines.

Sunita Ghale, who lost her right leg and Krishna Bahadur Ghising, whose lower body has been paralysed due to a landmine explosion, accused the government of showing indifference to their plight. “We have been finding it difficult to continue medications and fend for the family and children,” they said and urged the government to support them. It takes $3 to $10 to produce a landmine, while it takes anywhere between $200 and 1,000 to destroy it, according to the NCBL.