Mines in Noshaq

As remnants of the recent civil war opposing taliban and mujahideen fighters from the Northern Alliance, a minefield perched at over 3 000 meters blocks the way to Noshaq. Massoud, the commander, feared that the taliban would stage an invasion of the area, coming through the valley from Pakistan. Even in the narrow valley that leads to Noshaq, the expedition will have to avoid the 640 landmines, rigged by the mujahideen fighters in the year 2000.

To get to the foot of Noshaq, the Oxus expedition of 2003 had to go around the minefield. With the help of a military commander from the area (one who had help place the mines), the locals set up a new trail that lead to the basecamp. Two days of hiking were required for the commander to lead the expedition out of harm’s way. They had to go up the slope, cross a flow of fallen rocks, just 300 meters over the dangerous valley. The new trail has been secured, but the minefield remains. And although there exist projects intended to remove all remaining landmines in the area leading to Noshaq, the «official» deminers have different priorities. They work mostly in urban areas, on farmland, and on roads. There probably remain over a million landmines in Afghanistan. Every month, civilians lose limbs, or even their lives because of the scattered danger. Thousands of people work on demining the country, an effort instigated by the United Nations in Afghanistan.

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