Mines are still maiming children in Tajikistan
Last month, two teenage boys were seriously injured in Tajikistan after trying to disassemble what appeared to be an anti-personal mine.
Landmines are still dangerous in Tajikistan, even 25 years after the minefields were set up. Living conditions are hard in most rural parts of Tajikistan. In order to make their livelihood and income on a daily basis, local villagers are forced to use landmine contaminated land for agricultural and subsistence purposes.
On 9 May, Shohrukhi Khairiddin (13) and Shukrulloev Fakhriddin (14) were sent 10-15 kms away from the village by their parents to collect seasonal grass.
While collecting grass, some strange objects caught their attention. As with all children, the boys were curious and took one of the objects and tried to open its strange ‘wings’. The object was later identified as an anti-personal mine type PFM-1.
Upon disassembling the mine, the boys noted the fuse. Thinking it was a battery, they tried to remove it to use in a laser toy they had. By unwittingly pressing the detonator fuse, they initiated its detonation.
The boys were seriously injured in the following explosion. Shohrukhi Khairiddin, the younger of the two boys lost consciousness. The older boy Shukrulloev Fakhriddin, although seriously injured himself, carried his injured friend and the collected grass back towards their village. before reaching the village, he collapsed and lost consciousness.
After 2-3 hours the boys’ relatives got worried and started searching for them. They found both the boys in close proximity to the village, and transported them to a hospital.
At present they are both recovering from serious injuries, which are fortunately no longer life threatening. One lost a complete finger from his left hand and both have blast injuries and fragmentation wounds.
Tajikistan is one of the poorest countries in Central Asia. Currently almost half a million people live in mine-affected areas, and anti-personnel mines continue to maim the population. Almost 30 percent of known Tajikan casualties were children.
Norwegian People’s Aid has been clearing mines in Tajikistan since 2010. By January 2017 the organisation had released a total of more than 6 million m2 and removed and destroyed 19,696 anti-personnel mines, 264 UXO and 84 Cluster bombs. The work is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (NMFA), the United States Department of State (USDoS) and the Norwegian Broadcasting Company (NRK) Telethon Action (TVA) 2011.