News / Asia

Red Cross Condemns Use of Improvised Mines in Southern Afghanistan

The International Committee of the Red Cross has condemned the use of improvised mines and other explosive devices in the Marjah area of Helmand province in southern Afghanistan.  The Red Cross says such bombs are putting civilian lives at risk and preventing a resumption of normal life. 

The International Committee of the Red Cross does not explicitly point its fingers at the Taliban.  But, it strongly condemns the use of improvised explosive devices, which are the main weapon in the Taliban arsenal.  It calls them completely unacceptable.

The U.S.-led assault on Marjah was launched on February 13 to dislodge entrenched Taliban fighters.  The active fighting has ended.  But Red Cross spokesman Simon Schorno says the large number of land mines and other improvised explosive devices left behind continue to pose a deadly threat to civilians.

"In Marjah, the population is really unable to move about and get access to basic services, including health.  We had a first aid post during the offensive where operations had to be suspended," he said. "This first aid post is operational again, but people really cannot access the few medical facilities in the area.  So, mines and unexploded ordnances and improvised devices are a major threat to the population."  

The United Nations says nearly 28,000 people left the Marjah and Nad Ali areas before the U.S. Marine-led assault against the Taliban began.  As of now, the United Nations says only 4,500 people have returned to their homes.

The Red Cross says sooner or later, residents and displaced people will have no choice but to move about, if only to find food and water.  

When this happens, Schorno says, casualties will be unavoidable.  He notes improvised mines and unexploded homemade bombs do not differentiate between a military vehicle and a boy on a bicycle.

"The use of improvised mines and makeshift unexploded bombs is, of course, runs counter to international humanitarian law," said the spokesman. "The use of those weapons is banned under the mine-ban convention and their use is unacceptable.  Furthermore, the ICRC calls on the parties to take the utmost precautions and all efforts to clear the affected areas as soon as possible, so the population can return to a semi normal life."  

Decades of conflict have left Afghanistan with a lethal legacy of millions of anti-personnel landmines.    

The Red Cross notes international humanitarian law requires that parties to an armed conflict take all possible measures to protect the civilian population from the dangers posed by mines and explosive remnants of war in areas they control after active fighting.

A United Nations report earlier this year found the overwhelming majority of civilian casualties in the Afghan war are caused by Taliban attacks, mostly using improvised explosive devices and suicide bombers.

You May Like

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs