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‘5,000 landmine victims in Fata’

May 05, 2005

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PESHAWAR, May 4: A non-governmental organization (NGO) said on Tuesday that 5,000 victims of landmines had been identified in the tribal area and asked the government to take steps for their rehabilitation. The Community Motivation and Development Organization (CMDO) has been working against landmines and for the rehabilitation of their victims in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

Speaking at a news conference here, Dr Zafar Khan, chairman of the CMDO, said that his organization had started working in Peshawar in 1998 in the areas of mine action, education, health, and physical infrastructure schemes for Fata.

He said the tribal areas of Pakistan, sharing border with the war-torn Afghanistan, had been infested with landmines and vast quantities of unexploded ordnances (UXOs) since 1979, the year the Afghan war began.

These lethal and hidden weapons had played havoc with thousands of lives in Fata, but unfortunately like Afghanistan these people had not received the kind of attention and relief they deserved in the remote, rugged terrains.

He claimed that his organization had executed a mine action project in the Bajuar Agency and a multi-sector mine action project in Kurram Agency, in partnership with the Response International, UK.

He said that the CMDO had recently distributed 100 wheelchairs and other articles like walking stick, etc., among landmines and UXOs victims in the two agencies.

He added that the NGO was planning to extend mine action project to all the affected areas of Fata, Balochistan and Kashmir.

The establishment of prosthetic workshop to meet the needs of landmine and UXOs victims of Fata was being vigorously pursued.

He said that a total of 756 landmine victims in Bajuar Agency and 705 in Kurram Agency had been identified until now, adding that the Mamoon Tehsil, Salarzai, Charmung and some areas in Khar were among the most affected in Bajuar while Therimingal, Khar Lachi, Zairham and some areas in Lower Kurram of the Kurram Agency had been found as the most hit by landmines.

He said that a team of the NGO had visited the troubled South and North Waziristan agencies to assess casualties and victims of landmines there. Upon receipt of report, relief efforts would be started soon.

He added that more cases had been registered in Waziristan but due to security problem the NGO people were reluctant to carry out work there.