FSD’s history of operations in Afghanistan stretches back to 2001 where a programme in assistance to the World Food Programme (WFP) deployed three rapid reaction EOD and BAC teams in support of humanitarian food distribution across Afghanistan, a further team was also stationed in Kandahar in 2002 as an addition to this programme for UNOCHA. More recently FSD has executed operations in Darwaz Province since 2010 under funding from the PATRIP foundation and also from the US Department of State (WRA) for the deployment of mine action teams, multi-purpose EOD and clearance teams and also weapons and ammunition disposal (WAD) teams
Afghanistan continues to suffer from one of the highest levels of contamination from landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) in the World, resulting from nearly continuous armed conflict over the past three-plus decades. Whilst 78% of the area contaminated by recorded minefields and battlefields has been cleared, the remaining 22% still qualifies Afghanistan as one of the countries most affected by landmines and ERW in the world. In total, 1,587 communities remain affected in 257 districts across the country. Some 4,337 hazards remain, impeding national development by delaying the delivery of new highways and road networks, airports, mines, transmission lines and settlements. To compound Afghanistan’s difficulties, the continued struggle between the relatively new administration of the elected Afghan democratic government in 2014 and the Taliban, combined with the reduction in international development and military presence has only increased the severity of the problem affecting the civilian population and the socioeconomic success of Afghanistan. A downturn in total mine action funding since 2015 against that projected, when extrapolated forward, will consequently see Afghanistan not meeting its goal on Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty to be mine free by 2023.
FSD’s presence in Afghanistan has also grown in parallel to the growth of the national authorities and government in Afghanistan; this is reflected by the current registration of FSD as an international NGO and also its accreditation to conduct all EOD and Mine Action activities across Afghanistan in accordance with local and national authorities and the Ministries of Interior and Environment. As of 31 December 2016 FSD has cleared over 1.3 million square meters of land and destroyed over 45,000 items of mines and ordnance; risk education sessions have delivered critical explosive hazard awareness messages to over 200,000 children within 280 villages and towns in Northern Afghanistan.