Murphy's Law: Fatal, But Manly, Addiction


January 24, 2011: For the last two years, deminers in Afghanistan have increasingly been under attack. This is a major change. Even before September 11, 2001, the Taliban declared that deminers should not be molested in any way. That's because all the mines and unexploded munitions buried all over Afghanistan do not discriminate. Anyone who comes upon this stuff is likely to get hurt. But last year, 125 deminers were killed, wounded or kidnapped by Taliban or bandits. Most of the victims were kidnapped for ransom.

The reasons for this upsurge of violence against deminers is all about a job well done. No good deed goes unpunished. After 22 years, and over $300 million, the demining effort in Afghanistan is in its final stages. Most of the largest and most dangerous minefields were cleared by 2008, and attention turned to retraining programs for deminers who no longer had work. In many parts of Afghanistan, all the explosive stuff has been cleared, and many of the deminers don't want to move to another part of the country to continue their work. That can be dangerous given all the tribal and religious animosities, not to mention the bandits and Taliban. Some of the recent attacks were the result of deminers operating in an area where the locals were of a different tribe.

The demobilized deminers were given training mainly in the building trades (carpenters, painters, plumbers, electricians, and masons.) Having been a deminer is a splendid resume enhancer in Afghanistan, so these men usually had little trouble getting in on the building boom that is currently sweeping the country. But many deminers had become addicted to their dangerous task, and kept at it. With much less fear of old mines or unexploded bombs, more Taliban and bandits simply saw deminers from another part of the country as potential victims.

The demining effort, using nearly 9,000 demining personnel (nearly all of them Afghans) removed over 350,000 anti-personnel mines, over 20,000 anti-tank mines and over seven million pieces of unexploded ordnance (shells, grenades). The demining effort should be finished in another year or two.


Article Archive

Murphy's Law: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close