Maputo Declared the 6th Mine-Free Province in Mozambique

Mar 21, 2014

Children dance in a former mine infested site now completely free in Maputo Province (Photo: Kate Brady/UNDP/MOZ/2014)

Mozambique could conclude its demining programme and be declared free from land mines by the end of 2014, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Henrique Banze said in Maputo on Friday March 21 this year. 

The Minister was speaking at a ceremony in which Maputo province was declared free of all known area previously contaminated with landmines. Other guests included the UN Resident Coordinator Jennifer Topping, landmine survivors, government officials and ambassadors from countries that have supported the clearance and release of mine-suspected lands in Maputo. Also present were members of the community and from several private companies including the head of the national electric companies (EDM) whose electricity grid towers had been heavily mined.

Members of The Halo Trust and Apopo, UNDP’s implementing partners in Maputo, acknowledged that several clearance tasks in the area were difficult, in particular the clearance of the towers of the high voltage power line that carries electricity from South Africa to the city of Maputo and surrounding areas. Some minefields required heavy machinery and many were larger than initially thought. Indeed, a government-led baseline survey in 2008, identified, 29 mine-contaminated areas totaling 622,000m2. However, in the followed years the government-led mine free district process identified additional mine suspected areas. As a result of the demining efforts in Maputo province, some 1,307 items of unexploded ordnance and more than 5,500 landmines were destroyed between 2007 and 2014 and all the mine suspected areas identified between 2007 and 2014, totaling about 5,000,000m2 have been released back to the communities.

As the sixth province to reach mine-free status --after Niassa, Cabo Delgado, Nampula, Zambezia and Gaza—the achievement marks an important milestone on the path to a mine-free Mozambique. Currently, work in the provinces of Inhambane, Sofala, Manica and Tete is ongoing with roughly 5 million square meters of land suspected to be contaminated by landmines remaining.

At this stage, both the government and the development partners believe that it is possible to complete the clearance of these areas. However they are unanimous in recognizing that this requires continued commitment from all involved.

The Vice Minister urged partners to continue supporting the program by providing the necessary resources for completion before the target date. While Ms. Topping re-affirmed the UN’s commitment to the goal and told the assembled group that “by working together we can help Mozambique to realize its dream of becoming ‘mine-free’ and finally put this legacy of the conflict in the past.”

In the lead-up to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty (APMBT), signed in 1999, the situation in Mozambique exemplified the global problem: landmines were causing unacceptable civilian harm and were hampering development. It would therefore be a remarkable achievement, for the nation and the international mine ban effort, if Mozambique succeeds in attaining the status of a "mine-free country”.

This June, representatives from all over the world will return to Maputo where the first Meeting of States Party to the APMBT took place fifteen years ago. Much has changed in the intervening years and the progress in Mozambique, marked by events such as the Maputo Province ceremony, symbolizes this progress.

As Vice Minister Banze remarked, clearing minefields is not only a factor of stability for security and free movement of people and goods in this part of the country, but also fundamentally important for social and economic investment and development.


For more information please contact:

Hans Risser 
UNDP Technical Advisor, Mine Action 
National Demining Institute (IND) 
746 Avenida de Angola 
Mobile: +258-84-296-4620 

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