Geneva and Algiers — After decades of demining work and successfully clearing its territory of all known anti-personnel mines, Algeria has gone a step further eliminating nearly 6,000 landmines it had retained for training purposes becoming a country completely free of these weapons. The destruction of the remaining mines took place 18 September as the treaty commemorated 20 years since its adoption.
Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaid Slalah Vice Minister of National Defence, Abdelkader Messahel Minister of Foreign Affairs of Algeria, Tayeb Zitouni Minister of Moudjahidine, led the ceremony where the last 5,970 anti-personnel mines were destroyed. The President of the Convention, Thomas Hajnoczi, Ambassador of Austria to the United Nations in Geneva also attended.
“In three decades, almost nine million mines were detected and destroyed and 62,421 hectares of agricultural and pastoral lands cleared and released. Our hope is to see the fight of the international community against anti-personnel mines fully implemented by 2025,” said the Vice Minister who also called for those countries that have not yet done so to join the Convention. Landmines in Algeria claimed 7,300 casualties.
The President of the Convention congratulated Algeria for “its commitment in liberating its territory from anti-personnel mines and fulfilling the humanitarian objectives of the Convention. This would not have been possible without the extraordinary commitment of Algerian authorities at the highest level of State and the allocation of significant national resources,” said Ambassador Hajnoczi.
The Convention has been accepted by 162 countries representing over 80% of the world's States. It was adopted in Oslo in 1997, and signed that year in Ottawa. Demining efforts under the Convention have resulted in the clearance and release of millions of square metres of once dangerous lands and to a reduction in annual casualty rates in most countries. Together, these States have destroyed more than 51 million landmines.