A clear path to a landmine-free Angola?
Just two months ago in Angola, Prince Harry retraced his late mother’s footsteps, 22 years after the world’s cameras famously captured her walking along a cleared track through a live minefield.
That minefield is no longer a danger, having been cleared to make way for a thriving town – a busy community with homes, businesses and paved roads where the mines once laid.
But even today, 17 years on from the end of Angola’s civil war, landmines still claim lives.
Over the past five years, more than 60 per cent of the victims of the country’s landmines have been children, the majority born after the war ended.
Tepa village in Angola’s Moxico province is surrounded by minefields. With no running water supply to the village, its residents are forced to travel two kilometres along a path to fetch water from the river for their daily needs – a chore which often falls to women and children.
This onerous but vital task is indicative of the extreme poverty facing Tepa’s residents and much of Angola.
And for the women and children of Tepa this daily chore is also life-threatening as the only path through to fresh water runs directly through a live minefield.
Just weeks ago, a mine was found only 50cm, one step away, from the path’s edge.
Knowing the danger, those walking the path move carefully when they pass each other for fear of a stumble or a wrong move.
Before the war, Angola was self-sufficient in food crops but a return to peace has not led to a successful return to agriculture for many.
Fields lie barren and empty where crops should be growing due to the sheer level of contamination.
Some people, forced by the hand of poverty, risk their lives to farm close to minefields hoping that they won’t strike a mine or grenade.
Last year, MAG’s rapid response team in Angola responded to more than 500 emergency reports, removing 800 explosive items.
Until the mines are cleared, there is little hope that communities will escape poverty.
Many Angolan families still live as refugees in Zambia because their homeland is riddled with mines, almost two decades after the war ended.
Put simply, until its minefields are cleared, Angola is unable to thrive.
The urgent task ahead of us is to get to each mine before another young life is taken.
A donation of £60 could pay for 30 square metres of a minefield to be cleared and returned to the community so that they have safe land for to use.
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