UNDP in Mozambique celebrates International Mine Awareness Day

Demining workers in Mozambique
Demining workers in Mozambique (Photo: Kate Brady/UNDP Moz 2015)

After over 20 years of intensive, pro-active demining efforts, Mozambique is planning to formally declare in 2015 its completion of all mine clearance obligations under the Mine Ban Treaty. This tremendous success has been made possible by strong government commitment to mine action and continued national and international support.

UNDP has supported mine action in Mozambique since the early 1990s. At that time, Mozambique was acknowledged to be one of the most mine-affected countries in the world. Indeed, in the mid- to late-1990s –which saw the signing and adoption of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty– the international anti-landmine movement often cited Mozambique as a country that exemplified the heavy burden of landmines. At this time, many said that it could take over 50 years for the country to clear all known mined areas.

Highlights

  • UNDP has supported mine action in Mozambique since the early 1990s.
  • At that time, Mozambique was acknowledged to be one of the most mine-affected countries in the world
  • As a consequence of land clearance and release, people living in these areas are now able to work their land, gather firewood and water, and have their children walk to school without fear

In the last eight years alone, Mozambique has cleared over 30 km2 of mine-affected or mine-suspected areas, destroying over 85,938 anti-personnel mines, 133 anti-vehicle mines and 5,056 items of unexploded ordnance. The impacts of this clearance are very significant for the communities involved.

Perhaps the most obvious impact is the dramatic decrease in the number of people injured or killed by mines in Mozambique. In 1995, Handicap International had estimated fifty to sixty mine accident victims per month.[1] In 2014, the National Demining Institute recorded only four landmine accidents involving one civilian and three deminers. Also important, however, are the socio-economic benefits for the communities. Specifically, as a consequence of land clearance and release, people living in these areas –once limited by the presence of mines– are now able to work their land, gather firewood and water, and have their children walk to school without fear.

Yet even after all known mined areas are cleared, and Mozambique fulfills its Article 5 obligations under the Mine Ban Treaty, challenges will remain as a lethal legacy of conflict. In particular, landmine survivors will continue to require support for the rest of their lives while the country will still face a threat to civilians from other explosive remnants of war (ERW).

UNDP is continuing to work with the Government of Mozambique during this transition period to ensure the national capacities are in place to provide support to landmine survivors and manage the residual risks from other explosive remnants of war.

UNDP Mozambique would like to take the opportunity of International Mine Awareness Day to mark and acknowledge the extraordinary success of mine action in Mozambique. We are hopeful that the country’s success will continue to inspire others to remain true to course as we work together towards a world free of the scourge of landmines.

[1] 1999 Landmine Monitor Report for Mozambique: http://www.the-monitor.org/index.php/publications/display?act=submit&pqs_year=1999&pqs_type=lm&pqs_report=mozambique&pqs_section=%23Heading1809#Heading1809

For related materials kindly view:

- Statement of the United Nations Secretary General https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWRqrTFwj3s&feature=youtu.be

- UN website on Int’l mine awareness day                                http://www.un.org/en/events/mineawarenessday/

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