Additional clearance of five firing ranges used by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) in the Bamyan province in Afghanistan is ahead of schedule and more than half the work has been completed.
Afghan-based contractor Organisation for Mine clearance and Afghan Rehabilitation (OMAR) began the clearance work last June.
It has been estimated the work will take up to 52 weeks - spread over two calendar years because much of Bamyan is covered in snow during winter. This year’s work resumed in early April.
In its latest update, OMAR said that by early May, the project was 51 percent complete at the point where it was originally scheduled to be 34 per cent complete.
It had located and destroyed 705 unexploded ordnance/explosive remnants of war.
So far, 64, or nine per cent, of the items found and destroyed have been identified as the type used by the NZDF’s Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT).
Seventy-five per cent has been identified as non-NATO in origin.
OMAR’s findings so far reflect the long history of conflict in Afghanistan and are consistent with the remnants found by the PRT during its deployment in Bamyan.
The PRT was based in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2013. It operated the ranges to fire non-explosive small-arms rounds, as well as some high-explosive ammunition types.
Over the decade, it discovered and disposed of a considerable amount of foreign military unexploded ordnance/explosive remnants of war.
When the PRT team withdrew from Afghanistan it cleared the firing ranges in accordance with the standards of the time.
However, the International Security Assistance Force later introduced a new standard for range clearance. To meet that new standard the NZDF signed a contract with OMAR to undertake the additional work.
Under the terms of its contract OMAR provides assistance to locals injured by munitions on the firing ranges, which includes repair and replacement of prosthesis and orthosis. It also provides education to locals on how to stay safe in the area.
The Afghan Directorate of Mine Action Coordination is overseeing the clearance work.