Connect with us

General

Soviet bombs still killing people in Afghanistan

Published

on

Loading...
AFP

By AFP
More by this Author

Gholam Mahaiuddin sighs softly as he thinks of his 14-year-old son, who was killed in the spring by a bomb dropped last century in the hills of Bamiyan province in central Afghanistan.

“We knew the mountain was dangerous,” said Mahaiuddin, who found his son’s remains after he didn’t come home one day.

“We were aware of mines but we could not find them. They were buried in the soft sand after the rain.”

Forty years after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan – and three decades since the conflict ended – the war’s legacy continues to claim lives across the country.

Advertisement

Mahaiuddin’s son, Moujtaba, was killed along with two friends, aged 12 and 14, on May 17 when they went looking for berries in this idyllic landscape where chocolate-coloured mountains are topped with snow.

When none of them had returned the next day, Mahaiuddin and other residents from his tiny village, called Ahangaran, started searching.

“I found my son with just his chest and head left,” Mahaiuddin recalled.

Moujtaba and his friends had been killed by what is known as an AO-2.5 RTM submunition.

The cluster bombs were used extensively by Soviet forces, who dropped them like deadly rain across Afghanistan in the years following their December 1979 invasion.

Mahaiuddin, 44, remembers the war well. He said he used to bring tea to mujahedeen fighters who would hide in the mountains and launch ambushes against Soviet patrols.

More recently, the cluster weapons have been used in Syria, according to a 2016 Human Rights Watch report.

“It is the most dangerous, it is very sensitive to vibrations,” said Bachir Ahmad, who heads a team of deminers from the Danish Demining Group (DDG).

The humanitarian organisation has been working in several Afghan provinces since 1999 to clear explosives left from a war most of the country’s current, young population never lived through.

The hills of Bamiyan, which is famous as the home of two giant 6th-century Buddha carvings that the Taliban blew up, have been extensively scoured for mines and other explosives.

Loading...

Near the site of the blast that killed Moujtaba and his friends, DDG workers have painted white pathways showing which areas are clear of danger.

“This is the last battlefield we are cleaning in Bamiyan, it dates back to 1986,” said Habib Noor, the DDG’s head for the province.

Bamiyan, a region dominated by Shiite Hazaras and relatively unaffected by today’s violence ravaging the rest of Afghanistan, will soon be the first of the 34 provinces in Afghanistan where all known contaminated areas have been cleared.

The DDG found 26 explosive devices just in the area around Ahangaran.

“We explored the area with information from the people, finding locals who had fought up there,” Noor said.

At the site near Ahangaran visited by AFP, deminers worked under a bright blue sky, with a doctor and team leader always on hand.

The team of eight, wearing bright blue body armour, picked quietly at the ground, their silence broken only by the sound of crows crying and metal detectors buzzing.
Zarkha, 26, said she had found her first cluster bomb a few days earlier.

“I was very scared,” she said, describing how her team had carefully dug around the sensitive device and then destroyed it in a controlled explosion.

Last year, mines and other “explosive remnants of war” (ERW) killed or wounded 1,391 Afghans, according to government statistics. More than half of the victims were children.

“The explosive is still operable after one hundred years. The metal and plastic will degrade but not the explosives,” said Abdul Hakim Noorzai, DDG’s chief of demining operations based in Kabul.

Ahmad, the demining team leader, said he was angry his country remained devastated by the Soviet war.

“They destroyed our lives. Because of them we have to do demining instead of being a doctor or engineer or teacher,” he said, adding that he had been demining since 2003 and was bored with the tedious work.

While heading down the mountain, the team finds a gang of children playing outside the village’s modest school.

Nahida, 11, smiles shyly under the little white scarf covering her hair.

She remembers Moujtaba well. “He was my cousin. I cried when I learned that he was dead,” she said.

Asked if she knew anything about the war with the Soviets, she replied: “I don’t know where the bombs came from.”

Loading...
Continue Reading

General

Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

Published

on

Loading...

Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

Loading...

However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

Loading...
Continue Reading

General

Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

Published

on

Loading...

President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

Loading...
Continue Reading

General

Drastic life changes affecting mental health

Published

on

Loading...

Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

Get breaking news on your Mobile as-it-happens. SMS ‘NEWS’ to 20153

With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

Loading...

Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

Loading...
Continue Reading

Trending