Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have begun the process of eradicating mines on their mutual border with the goal of reducing fatal accidents and opening more land for productive use.
Separate sections of the 1,300-kilometer-long Tajik-Uzbek border were mined at the end of the 1990s at the instigation of the Uzbek government to prevent incursions of militants from the terrorist group Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.
Unofficial sources suggest the total mined area is about 9.5 square kilometers. Over the past 18 years, 474 people have died from stepping on mines; many more were wounded. Fifty-four sections of the border area remain particularly dangerous with the presence of close to 11,000 mines.
Through the efforts of agencies such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, about 16 square kilometers of the border were demined as of May 2018, a process that removed the threat of 56,000 mines and 41 kilograms of explosives.
The mine clearance agreement resulted from a 2017 summit between Tajik President Emomali Rahmon and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. Both countries will benefit from thousands of newly cleared hectares of land available for crops and livestock.
Sources: Fergana News, Regnum, Ozodlik, EurAsia Daily, Centrasia.ru