Ninth of Ten Mozambican Provinces Declared Mine-Free

Apopo deming workers in action in Manica Province
Apopo deming workers in action in Manica Province

Mozambique came another step closer to being declared mine-free on 16th of April when Manica became the ninth Mozambican province to have completed clearance in all known mined areas. The ceremony marked the end of demining operations which finished up in March 2015 with the clearance of the last known mined area in Manica near the town of Espungabera along the Mozambique’s border with Zimbabwe.

This achievement leaves only the neighbouring province of Sofala to be declared before the entire country will complete its mine clearance obligations under the international Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty.

Highlights

  • This will be an enormous achievement, not just for Mozambique but for the entire international community that has worked tirelessly to eliminate the threat posed by landmines.
  • This success has been due to strong leadership on the part of the government as well as continued commitment and support from international partners, including the UNDP.
  • Today, these areas of land are safe and accessible, allowing people to gather firewood and water, to farm crops, to send their children to school without fear. The impact of this demining is significant.

This will be an enormous achievement, not just for Mozambique but for the entire international community that has worked  tirelessly to eliminate the threat posed by landmines. In the mid-1990s, when the international effort to ban anti-personnel landmines was at its height, Mozambique was often cited as exemplifying the burden of landmines; a burden which saw people across Mozambique indiscriminately injured or killed in mine accidents while tracts of land were made inaccessible, restricting free movement, damaging the economy and severely hampering livelihood activities. Mozambique was, at the time, one of the most mined countries in the world.

Estimates suggested that the active clearance of all known mined areas in Mozambique would take many decades with several commentators at the time suggesting it could take 50-100 years to do so. Today, just 16 years after the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty came into effect, Mozambique is on the threshold of this very achievement. This success has been due to strong leadership on the part of the government as well as continued commitment and support from international partners, including the UNDP.

Also commendable is the dedication demonstrated by the humanitarian demining teams composed predominantly of Mozambicans, who have been working to make their country safer under the coordination of the National Institute of Demining (IND).

Over the course of the last 20 years, APOPO, Halo Trust, Handicap International and Norwegian’s People Aid have all worked in Manica Province clearing the minefields left behind as an appalling legacy of  armed conflicts. In the last eight years alone, over  2,826,000m2 were cleared in the province and released to the communities with the destruction of 1,614 anti-personnel mines, 106 anti-vehicle mines, and 927 items of unexploded ordnance.  Today, these areas of land are safe and accessible, allowing people to gather firewood and water, to farm crops, to send their children to school without fear. The impact of this demining is significant.

However, in spite of the extraordinary effort the government undertook to ensure all known areas have been cleared, risks will remain. Other explosive remnants of war will continue to pose a threat to Mozambicans and their livelihoods. For this reason, UNDP is working with the government to establish a residual capacity within the national police force to deal with these issues.

 

 

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