Seventh Mozambique province declared land mine free

Inhambane declared mine free
Community celebration as Inhambane is declared mine free

Mozambique’s southern Inhambane province has been declared free of land mines. On the 6th of November, a ceremony was held in the Inhassoro District to celebrate the completion of demining activities in Inhambane. In the ceremony, the National Demining Institute (IND) formally concluded mine clearance in the province. This milestone makes the whole south of the region a mine free area.

In total, more than 6.5 million square metres of land in this province have been handed back to the community since 2008 with the removal or destruction of over 12,000 types of munitions and some 270 landmines. The low intensity of mines in the area is indicative of the haphazard way in which mines were emplaced making it very difficult for populations to know where was safe and where was not.

Highlight

  • More than 6.5 million square metres of land in this province have been handed back to the community since 2008 with the removal or destruction of over 12,000 types of munitions and some 270 landmines
  • Mozambique is party to the Ottawa Convention banning the use, stockpiling, producing and transfer of anti-personnel mines.

The ceremony makes Inhambane the seventh Province of Mozambique to be declared mine-free meaning there are no more known mined areas in the Province – after Cabo Delgado, Gaza, Maputo, Nampula, Niassa and Zambezia -- leaving only Tete, Sofala and Manica with mined areas. It is anticipated that these provinces will see the completion of demining in the coming months. 

The declaration, therefore, marks another step towards a mine-free Mozambique when the country will, in accordance with the Mine Ban Treaty, complete the identification and clearance of all known and suspected mined areas.

The event was hosted by the IND, represented by its Director, Alberto Augusto,   with UNDP represented by Ms. Nadia Vaz. Other guests included the Permanent Secretary of the Province of Inhambane, Mr.  Fernando Campine, the District Permanent Secretary for Inhassoro, Mr Lucas Maiane, and Mr.  Aderito Ismael who represented Handicap International. Officials from the Armed Defense Force of Mozambique (FADM) who participated in demining activities also attended the event, as did many members of the local communities.

Speaking at the ceremony, IND Director Alberto Augusto said he was optimistic that the remaining areas in the rest of the country still affected by mines could be cleared by the end of 2014.

He noted that the completion of demining operations in Inhambane “is not only a factor of stability for the safety and free movement of people and goods, but also fundamental for attracting investment for the region as well as for social and economic development activities in this province, “he said.

On behalf of UNDP, Nadia Vaz thanked all of the partners that have supported this process, particularly the Government of Mozambique and the IND who have provided direction and guidance, allowing the country to achieve this important milestone.

With the suspected and known mined areas examined, cleared and released, people in these areas can now cultivate their land, send their children to school and gather firewood without fear of triggering a landmine risking injury or death.

Mozambique is party to the Ottawa Convention banning the use, stockpiling, producing and transfer of anti-personnel mines. It ratified the treaty in 1999 and one of its obligations was to conclude demining within ten years. Since this proved impossible, the Mozambican government asked for a five year extension, to 2014.

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