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Soviet bombs still killing people in Afghanistan

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AFP

By AFP
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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.

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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.

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.

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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.”

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Labour court kicks out Mary Wambui : The Standard

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The Labour Court has nullified the appointment of former Othaya MP Mary Wambui (pictured) as chairperson of the National Employment Authority (NEA) board.
Justice Onesmus Makau yesterday said Wambui was unqualified and dismissed her appointment as irregular and unconstitutional as she does not meet the qualifications for the position.
The court quashed the Gazette notice on the appointment, with Justice Makau saying the authority needs a person with academic expertise.
SEE ALSO :Kenyans mock ex-MP Mary Wambui’s appointment”Her appointment to the board does not meet the constitutional requirements; it is therefore null and void. The Gazette notice is quashed. It is unlawful. A permanent injunction is issued barring her from being appointed to the post,” ruled the judge.
The case was filed by Kenya Young Parliamentarians Association, a lobby headed by Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja.
According to the lobby, the former MP had severally admitted that she had limited education background.
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Section 10(2) of the National Employment Authority Act provides that a person shall be qualified to serve as the chairperson of the board if they have at least seven years’ experience in Human Resource Management or its equivalent.
However, there is no age limit.
SEE ALSO :A country of old peopleThe court heard that she did not have academic and professional qualifications to allow her run the office.
In a Gazette notice dated October 14, 2019, then Labour CS Ukur Yatani picked Wambui for the job, triggering an outcry from Kenyans.
Following the appointment, Wambui was expected to lead a team that will create job centres in all constituencies where youths would register, detailing their skills.
The authority is also expected to be a link between employers and potential employees by posting available vacancies on social media. 

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Rwanda sets aside $10m for CHOGM sprucing of Kigali

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MOSES K. GAHIGI

By MOSES K. GAHIGI
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Rwanda is pulling all stops in its preparations to host the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) slated for June 22 to 27. The biennial summit was last held in East Africa in 2007 in Kampala.

The government has set aside up to Rwf10billion ($10.5 million) to improve and build infrastructure needed for the event.

“We have various committees working on the different aspects of CHOGM preparations, from infrastructure, hotels, to protocol, we are moving well and we have put up various mechanisms to ensure that we are ready by that time,” said Rwanda’s Minister for Foreign affairs Vincent Biruta.

Kigali will be the biggest beneficiary as authorities construct inter-city and connecting road network roads that will see the free flow of traffic.

There is new Mulindi Road, Kabeza-Alpha Palace Road, Rwandex Network Road, Nyabisindu-Nyarutarama Road and Migina Network Road connecting Gasabo district headquarters to Sports View Hotel.

All the roads under construction are situated in areas surrounding the airport, and are aimed at decongesting the main Kigali International Airport Road, which will be mostly used during the event.

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“We have different on-going construction projects around the city, many of which are infrastructure, we are also working on recreational sites and green parks such that guests have a great experience. Preparations are at 55 per cent,’’ said Ernest Nsabimana, City of Kigali vice mayor.

Up to 10,000 delegates from all the 53 Commonwealth countries are expected to attend the event. It is expected that the event will stretch the limit of city’s roads, conference venues as well as accommodation.

The Rwanda Convention Bureau did not respond to our questions on the progress on ensuring that the country has adequate accommodation for the CHOGM delegates at the time of going to press.

But it is expected that the existing high-end conference facilities like the Kigali Convention, the Kigali Conference and Exhibition Village, Intare Arena will all be put to good use.

The airport is key in the CHOGM preparation process, and currently the construction and modifications are ongoing to increase the number of parking space for aircraft and passengers lounge at the terminal.

“The event is expected to raise Rwanda’s profile as a tourism and MICE destination, and the country already has up to 25 events lined up for 2020.

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IPOA launches investigations into Majengo, Mwiki killings by police

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The running battles between police and irate demonstrators in Kasarani and Mwiki areas this week resulted in the death of one person who is alleged to have been shot dead by anti-riot police officers.

Following public outcry, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority has launched investigations into the incident.

In a statement, the authority says it has deployed a Rapid Response team to institute investigation into the incident and another separate one where police are said to have shot dead a young man on 16th January in Nairobi’s Majengo estate. 

IPOA says it seeks to establish circumstances that led to the shootings and if the security officers were justified to use excessive force.

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It is after the intense investigations that the authority will forward its recommendations to relevant institutions for further action. 

The policing oversight body assured the public of its commitment to ensure independent, impartial and fair investigations.  

 

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