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Afghanistan: OMAR mine museum

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OMAR mine museum | Afghanistan | Asia

[Visited: October 2017]

At the end of our trip through Afghanistan, we are full of impressions of the nature, people, and ancient history of this exciting and rich country. At the same time, we are aware that wars have plagued its people, and large parts of the country are still not safe to travel in. To get a better perspective on this, we head to the OMAR (Organisation for Mine clearance and Afghan Rehabilitation) mine museum. It is located just around the corner of the infamous Ghazi stadium, once used by the Taliban for public executions, but hardly any Afghan we ask knows where to find it. When we see military equipment inside a compound, we know we have arrived. We pass through a security check, are asked to wait a little, and then received by a friendly staff member of the organization who takes us around the compound.

Picture of OMAR mine museum (Afghanistan): Some of the over 50 types of landmines used in Afghanistan

We start with the main exhibition hall. A sobering place: lined up on the wall and on display in cupboards, we find all kinds of explosives used in the wars in Afghanistan. The lady tells us about the fact that mines have been used since decades in the country, making Afghanistan one of the most-minded countries in the world. Landmines still claim lives on a daily basis in the country, and although clearance operations have been underway for a long time, this even happens in Kabul itself. It is sickening to see how devices have been designed to maim and kill people, and even more so how many of their victims are children. The lady tells us about the awareness campaigns among young Afghans, but at the same time, the question remains: how can you tell a kid not to be curious, not to explore, not to play, not to pick up that fancy device you just found on the ground?

Picture of OMAR mine museum (Afghanistan): Part of the exhibition of the landmine museum

Remarkable attributes to the exhibition are some fancy classic cars, some with historic significance (like the one used by an ex-president), and certainly also the Yak aircraft that is fully integrated into the building. Its fuselage lies on the roof of the mine museum, and walking up the rear stairs brings you to a classroom with video equipment, to make the exhibition more attractive for kids. Downstairs, we see equipment used by staff to clear the land of mines (a dangerous job, obviously). Outside, we see some of the Soviet aircraft and a Scud missile, also used in the war here. Then, a row of used cluster bombs - God knows how many lives they have claimed here. All the while, the lady patiently explains the work of OMAR, the struggle to get their country safer, and the long road they still have to go before everyone can walk without fear on Afghan soil. We feel helpless - all we can do is make a donation to OMAR to keep up their good work.

Picture of OMAR mine museum (Afghanistan): Yak aircraft sitting on the roof of the museum, acting as a classroom for schoolkids
Picture of OMAR mine museum (Afghanistan): Gear used by mine-clearing personnel
Picture of OMAR mine museum (Afghanistan): One of the promotion materials urging people not to pick up anything unknown from the ground
Picture of OMAR mine museum (Afghanistan): Scud missile on display outside the museum
Picture of OMAR mine museum (Afghanistan): Dusty Soviet helicopter, part of the open-air exhibition
Picture of OMAR mine museum (Afghanistan): Explosives used in the war in Afghanistan on display
Picture of OMAR mine museum (Afghanistan): Explosives on display in the museum
Picture of OMAR mine museum (Afghanistan): Interior of the exhibition hall with classic cars and Yak aircraft
Picture of OMAR mine museum (Afghanistan): Several RPGs, Rocket Propelled Grenades, on display in the museum
Picture of OMAR mine museum (Afghanistan): Classroom inside a Soviet Yak aircraft
Picture of OMAR mine museum (Afghanistan): Soviet military aircraft on display at the landmine museum
Picture of OMAR mine museum (Afghanistan): Painted Soviet Mi-8 helicopter, now offering internet access for schoolkids visiting the museum
Picture of OMAR mine museum (Afghanistan): Row of cluster bombs on display in the outdoor exhibition

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