During the conflict against armed groups, landmines were placed on the outskirts of cities and villages. Because they were not quickly cleared, wind, rain, and landslides have caused them to move, making it even harder to find them now. They can pop up anywhere, like in empty lots behind houses where kids go to play. A few years ago, a mine exploded in a school yard. Kids pick them up out of curiosity, since they have no idea what they are. And in some areas that have officially been cleared of landmines, they sometimes still explode because the cleanup has not been done properly.
Dana, a young victim of a landmine explosion.
I have met with injured children and documented their stories. A young boy named Gashin had gone out to play ball when he stepped on a landmine and lost his leg. Another boy named Dana had gone out for a stroll in an area that nobody knew there were still landmines in. He also lost a leg. Layla and Ghazal went for a walk and were killed.
Ala, a young girl who was injured by a landmine while playing outside.
“If only the government would ask for help from international organizations, they could help with the cleanup”
There is little support for these victims. Victims under the age of 16 are given compensation to cover the costs of prosthetic limbs, which is not the case for adults. But this isn’t enough – families still have to pay for travel to medical centres, and for lodgings while they’re there. Afterward, in order to receive a disability pension, the authorities must review their cases to determine their level of disability. But this process can take a long time. And when they do receive a pension, it’s usually quite little, for example 400,000 rial [about 11 euro] a month for a child with a severed leg. In some cases, this barely covers the cost of the medicines they need to take. And then, of course, there’s the psychological toll. Because of a lack of resources in these remote areas, children who are severely disabled are forced to stay at home and become isolated from their peers.
A rock marks the spot where a landmine exploded, injuring a young girl named Geshin. To the right of the photograph is a village road.
The authorities need to carry out more precise clearing of contaminated areas, and in parallel raise awareness about the dangers of landmines among the region’s inhabitants. If only the government would ask for help from international organizations… But it won’t even sign the Ottawa Treaty [the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, which 161 countries have signed].