On the occasion of the International Day for Mine Awareness, the UN Mine Action Service and the International Road Transport Union celebrate the successful completion of their 10-month innovative Public-Private Partnership in Afghanistan.
New York – In the framework of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety launched in 2011, the International Road Transport Union (IRU) – true to its commitment to achieve sustainable development, notably by furthering the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) through facilitated, safe and secure road transport – teamed up with UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) to support demining activities in Afghanistan.
The aim of this innovative Public-Private Partnership was to increase security and intensify socio-economic development of Afghanistan to facilitate its integration in the global trade and economy systems and develop cooperation in road transport safety and security. This would be achieved by effectively improving road security in war-torn Afghanistan through the clearance of roads and road adjacent minefields and battle areas posing a significant threat to the movement of people and goods along the routes linking Kabul to its Central Asian neighbours.
In a letter addressed to the IRU, UN Secretary General, BAN Ki-moon, stressed: “The IRU contribution greatly facilitated our work to support the civilian population of Afghanistan in their efforts to rebuild lives and livelihoods following the devastation of decades of conflict and instability…The area now supports the safe passage along the routes linking Afghanistan with its Central Asian neighbours…The assistance of IRU has contributed to a safer and more prosperous Afghanistan.”
The project has helped reinvigorate socio-economic opportunities between Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and beyond, and has helped move the country from aid to trade by international road transport, thus contributing to the reconstruction, development and stabilisation of Afghanistan.
The project directly benefitted 42 communities of over 3,000 Afghan families living in the vicinity of the 86 hazardous zones covered. In the long term, this project will benefit the estimated 7 million people living in the six provinces through which the ring road runs, as it will allow people to use roads safely for access to education, healthcare or economic opportunities, reduce the cost of food and non food items, and return 4,000,000 sq m of land to its original agricultural purposes.
Once secured, Afghanistan’s roads, which are strategically located along the Silk Road, will also play an essential role in Euro-Asian trade by road transport that can bring prosperity to the entire landmass through the revitalisation of the ancient Silk Road.
IRU Secretary General Martin Marmy concluded: “Improving road security, safety and facilitating trade and international road transport have always been at the core of the IRU’s actions for over 60 years. After World War II, the IRU helped expedite Europe’s reconstruction by developing the TIR transit System, which dramatically improved the integration of Europe’s trade and economy. Today, the road transport industry is proud to contribute tangibly once again to the economic recovery and prosperity of yet another war-torn region.”
This UNMAS-IRU Public-Private Partnership is a very concrete step in the right direction to driving progress and ultimately peace to ensure the sustainable mobility of people and goods in the region. It is IRU’s hope that this project will serve as an inspiration for others to join and put into practice the IRU motto: “Working together for a better future.”