Update: Shomali Valley 03-April-2004

Wazir Akbar Khan

On Wednesday 1 April, the crew visited a demining project on a hillside in Wazir Akbar Khan, a neighborhood in the center of the city. Demining team #1 of the Danish Demining Group (DDG) allowed them to try out the ‘helmet’ camera for the first time on a deminer. This small camera is normally affixed to helmets to capture motorbike and bicycle race from the point of view of the competitor. We used it to get the deminer’s perspective on their work.

Kabul Airport

The crew used the helmet cam again on Thursday, when they visited a demining project by the Afghan Technical Consultants (ATC) at the Kabul airport. When we arrived in Kabul, as the airplane touched down we could deminers out the window standing on a piece of land right next to the runway watching our plane land. They have to cease work every time a plane lands as it becomes too noisy to hear their metal detectors. This demining effort at the airport has been going on for several months.

The Shomali Valley

On Friday and Saturday, the crew visited demining projects in the Shomali Valley, about an hour’s drive north of Kabul, by the British NGO HALO Trust and by ATC. The Shomali Valley formed the front line between the Mujahideen and Soviet forces and subsequent between forces of the Taliban and the Northern Alliance. It is now being transformed from a desolate no-man's land as refugees and internally displaced persons come back to settle and rebuild the destroyed homes and villages. HALO is Afghanistan’s largest demining NGO and two-thirds of its clearance work takes place in the valley. The valley is so heavily mine-affected that it has been informally called the ‘devil’s garden.’

Kuchi tribespeople

On the way to the Shomali, the crew stopped to talk to a Kuchi shepherd. The Kuchi tribespeople are nomadic, migrating across the country with their caravans of sheep, goats, donkeys and camels. They wear bright clothes, silver and lapis jewelry, and some have bright red hair. The shepherd they stopped had fragments of a mine in his foot from a recent incident and he pointed at the surrounding land that he said was mined. He told the crew that he sought medical care from coalition forces at the nearby Baghram airbase, but was turned away. The crew gave him some cash to get to the ICRC clinic in Kabul for treatment.

For more information, see:

Danish Demining Group (DDG)

Afghan Technical Consultants (ATC)

The HALO Trust