Mozambique was officially declared mine-free today (17 September 2015). Liberated from the threat of landmines, which has caused thousands of casualties, citizens of Mozambique are finally free to enjoy the benefits of lands once canvassed by the presence of mines.
De-mining operations began in 1998 and since then, more than 16 million square metres of land has been cleared, 6,000 anti-personnel mines have been neutralized and 5,000 explosive remnants of war have been removed by the combined de-mining efforts of people, dogs and machines.
To achieve these results, the Canadian Landmine Foundation (CLMF) donated $50,000 in September 2013. The donation went to complete clearance of remaining suspected hazardous areas (SHAs) in Muanza district, Sofala Province (the 15th district to be classified as “free-of-mines” by Handicap International clearance operations).
“It’s a victory for everyone in Mozambique. Now children can play outside, farmers can work their fields, and villages can grow without the fear of setting off a mine … However, the country needs to continue helping victims, because “mine-free” doesn’t mean that the victims of these barbaric weapons have disappeared.”
- Grégory Le Blanc, head of Handicap International’s mission in Mozambique.
De-mining efforts in Mozambique took more than 20 years to complete. A devastating 25-year war of independence (1965-1975), followed by a civil war (1977-1992), had left the country among the most mined areas in the world, along with Angola, Afghanistan, Cambodia or Colombia.
Under the terms of the Ottawa Treaty, Maputo is obliged to continue helping its thousands of mine accident survivors. They will need rehabilitation and orthopedic follow-up care, social and occupational inclusion, and other assistance for years to come.
“The international community also needs to keep up its efforts against mines … Although we’ve made a lot of progress, there’s still a long way to go in terms of funding for demining, victim assistance and risk education. By staying the course for so many years, Mozambique has shown that it is possible to beat anti-personnel mines. It sends out a message of hope to all countries which are having to deal with this terrible burden.”
- Grégory Le Blanc
For more details, view the official press release here: http://handicap-international.ca/en/mozambique-declared-mine-free-handicap-international-hails-major-achievement#sthash.ygL4CTjQ.dpuf