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DUSHANBE, April 4 (Itar-Tass) – Over 356 deaths and 500 injuries due to landmines have occurred in Tajikistan for the past 15 years. One third of victims are children.
A spokesman for Tajikistan Mine Action Centre, Parviz Mavlonkulov, cited these data on Thursday, when the world marks the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.
He noted that the Central Asian republic faced this threat during the 1992-1997 Civil War, when the two conflicting sides planted mines on land plots in zones of their control. In the middle of the 1990s landmines were planted along the Tajik-Afghan border by Russian servicemen for more effective protection of the Panj boundary from penetration by international terrorists.
In 2000 Tajikistan joined the Ottawa Treaty or the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention. For ten years with financial assistance of the international community, mainly the United Nations Development Programme, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and donor countries, 88 of the 300 exposed mined areas were cleared.
At present, Tajikistan’s mined fields total around 7.5 million square meters.
According to Tajikistan’s human rights organizations, over 350,000 people reside in the danger zone.
Mavlonkulov said the Tajik side undertook obligations to clear its territory from unexploded mines and shells by 2020.