Target: General Joseph Dunford, Jr., Commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan
Goal: Demand that the U.S. military clean up the unexploded mines and other toxic trash left behind from its War in Afghanistan
Long after the War in Afghanistan finally draws to a close citizens of the Arab nation will continue to suffer and die at the hands of the United States military. Unexploded mines, grenades, rockets and mortars litter an area twice the size of New York City. Already dozens of children have been killed or maimed after accidentally disturbing munitions sites, which are often poorly marked.
Experts estimate the cleanup could take up to five years and cost more than $250 million. Only 3% of the contaminated land has been cleared so far, and while the military has committed to finishing the job it has yet to budget any money for the task. Major Michael Fuller, who heads the Army’s Mine Action Center at Bagram Airfield, explained the rationale in an interview with the Washington Post. “Unfortunately,” he said, “the thinking was: ‘We’re at war and we don’t have time for this.'” Many fear that cleanup efforts will become an afterthought as troops withdraw and more contaminated sites are abandoned.
Without intense commitment and follow-through more Afghan civilians will lose their limbs and their lives due to the U.S. military’s negligence. Demand action to ensure that all contaminated land is demined and cleared of the war’s toxic legacy.
Dear General Dunford,
The War in Afghanistan has already claimed the lives of thousands of civilians, yet this toll will continue to rise long after the war’s end if the U.S. military leaves behind unexploded munitions. Cleanup of contaminated sites has begun but only a fraction of the undetonated bombs, mines, grenades and other ordnances have been removed. No money has yet been allocated for the colossal cleanup. Without question it is the military’s responsibility to complete this essential work.
Even before the war began in 2001 Afghanistan was the most heavily mined country on Earth. I am grateful to know that the U.S. government has partnered to safely remove the millions of pieces of unexploded ordnance left after the Soviets’ 1989 withdrawal. A similar commitment is required to address America’s own toxic trash in Afghanistan.
Previous military actions like the Vietnam War left similar devastation in their wake as undetonated mines and munitions continued to claim lives after troops had withdrawn. Please, don’t leave the Afghan people in a similar predicament. Commit the U.S. military to removing 100% of its toxic trash in Afghanistan.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Master Sgt. Christopher DeWitt via Flickr