POST TIME: 5 February, 2017 00:00 00 AM
Bangladesh Army men risk lives to rebuild Kuwait
72 members killed in deadly tasks
DEEPAK ACHARJEE, back from Ummu-Al-Guati, Kuwait

Bangladesh Army men risk lives to rebuild Kuwait

Bangladeshi military personnel are rebuilding Kuwait by risking their lives for the past 26 years. As many as 6,000 members of the Bangladesh Military Contingent (BMC) are working here under Kuwait Armed Forces on a project named Operation Kuwait Punarghathan (OKP), including clearing of landmines planted by Iraqi forces led by Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War in 1991.
But the rebuilding efforts have come at a heavy price for the BMC personnel posted in Kuwait. In 2016, Lance Corporal Joynal Abedin was killed while clearing landmines from a battlefield at Ummu-Al-Guati, 100 km from Kuwait.
According to BMC records, the high-risk task has so far claimed the lives of 72 Bangladeshi military personnel and injured 52 others.
This correspondent, who accompanied a delegation of the Bangladesh parliamentary standing committee on defence to Ummu-Al-Guati this week, interacted with senior BMC officers posted there.
Talking to The Independent, Maj. Faroque said they were working in the desert area of Ummu-Al-Guati for clearing landmines and recovering arms and explosives planted by Saddam Hussain’s forces in 1991. “That’s why every footstep in this area is fraught with danger,” he added.
“We are working here not only under the risk of being killed by the landmines, but also facing extreme weather conditions of the desert,” he said.
“The whole area of Ummu-Al-Guati was divided into 16 blocks to clear landmines and recover arms and other explosives. So far, we have cleared 15 blocks, and recovered a large number of landmines, various arms and explosives,” he added.
The Army officer said a Belgian citizen named Md Claud, an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) technician, working under Kuwait Army, was advising them on detecting and destroying ammunitions. “An officer of the Kuwaiti armed forces, Lt. Col. Badol, is also supervising our work,” he added.
Another Bangladeshi army officer disclosed that they have themselves invented a “breakdown operation machine” to destroy ammunition and have successfully implemented it for years.
BMC commander Brig. Gen. Shamim-Uz-Zaman said, “As many as 6,000 Bangladeshis, including personnel from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Bangladesh Coast Guard, fire civil defence and civilians, are working on deputation here under BMC, and 1,000 more will arrive soon.” The officer further said they were trying to appoint members from the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) under the BMC in the near future. He added that the Bangladeshi personnel were successfully working under different ministries and departments, including the defence ministry, interior ministry of enforcement of Kuwait and also the country’s law enforcement agencies. “Our armed forces members also work in the Kuwait National Guard,” he added.