Clearing Land Mines in Afghanistan

This is the VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT.

Each year, thousands of people are killed or injured by explosions from land mines. This is a serious problem in many developing countries that are experiencing war. Afghanistan is considered the most heavily land-mined country in the world. Soviet forces fighting in Afghanistan placed most of the bombs during the Nineteen-Eighties.

The United Nations estimates that as many as ten-million land mines were buried in Afghanistan before the American-led war against terrorism started. That number has increased. United States military planes dropped unexploded cluster bombs in Afghanistan. These bombs are especially dangerous because they look like games for children to play with.

Now, the United States is helping Afghanistan remove these dangerous land mines. It has employed a company based in Washington, D.C., called Ronco Consulting Company. Ronco is sending an eleven-man team of experts to Afghanistan to help remove the bombs. The team will also train Afghan officials in mine removal techniques. They will start in Jalalabad, then move to four other areas of the country.

Stephen Edelmann and Ronald Boyd started Ronco in Nineteen-Seventy-Four. Since that time, the company has worked on more than three-hundred projects in more than fifty developing countries. About ninety people work for Ronco in the United States. More than three-hundred people work for the company around the world.

In recent years, Ronco experts have gone to several other countries to find and remove land mines. The company uses metal sensing equipment and specially trained dogs to find the buried bombs. It also helps countries create special picture books for children. These books warn children about the dangers of land mines.

Human Rights Watch estimates that a single land mine costs between three and thirty dollars to make. Yet, the cost of finding and removing a single bomb is between three-hundred and one-thousand dollars. Although the cost is high, the United States believes it is money well spent.

Secretary of State Colin Powell has said the United States will help rebuild Afghanistan and bring hope to its people. He says that hope will begin with clearing the country of land mines.

This VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT was written by Jill Moss.

Voice of America Special English

Source: DEVELOPMENT REPORT - January 21, 2002: Clearing Land Mines in Afghanistan
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