A report from The Washington Post, which highlights the increasing number of Afghan children who are being killed by unexploded ordnance on abandoned NATO/ISAF firing ranges.
The report says that ‘of the casualties recorded by the United Nations, 88 percent were children’, with ‘most of the victims . . . taking their animals to graze, collecting firewood or searching for scrap metal’.
A bare minimum of 77 people have been killed in this fashion since 2012, but the number is likely higher.
This was the experience of a couple of Afghan families:
‘Last month, Jawad’s father, Sayed Sadeq, heard a boom and ran onto the range. He spotted his son’s bloodied torso.
“The left side of his body was torn up. I could see his heart. His legs were missing,” the father said.
One of the boys, it appeared, had stepped on a 40mm grenade, designed to kill anyone within five yards. Both teens died.
“If the Americans believe in human rights, how can they let this happen?” Sadeq said’.
‘Two months after his family moved to Bagram, Abdul Wakhil, 12, walked around the area looking for firewood and unknowingly entered the range. Thirty feet from the main road, he stepped on an explosive.
One of his legs was blown off. The other was amputated at a Kabul hospital.
He doesn’t have prosthetics or a wheelchair, so he has to be carried everywhere.
“What can he do without legs?” said his brother, Abdul Mateen, 25. “His future is hopeless.”
The Occupiers have promised to clean up the ranges, although some military officials have expressed doubt as to the feasibility of this, given a lack of manpower.
The article also states that ‘because Afghanistan is not a signatory to the U.N. Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, U.S. officials say they are not legally obligated to clear any of the unexploded ordnance’.
The Occupying powers have also ‘refused to construct fencing’ around the ranges, saying that this ‘would be prohibitively expensive and probably ineffective’.
Let us not forget that the life of an Afghan civilian can be worth as little as $210 to the Occupying forces, so paying the ‘compensation’ for any deaths could well turn out to be more cost effective than constructing thousands of square miles of barriers (that grim calculus aside, Afghans losing access to tens of thousands of square miles of their own land, simply because the Occupiers wanted to use it to test the weapons which had previously been used to kill them with, would be a Kafkaesque injustice indeed).
But at this moment in time, it appears that even if – and that’s a big and very doubtful ‘if’ – the Occupying forces do completely withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, they will continue to kill and maim Afghan children long into the future.