Guinea-Bissau destroys last of its landmine stockpile

Report
from International Campaign to Ban Landmines
Published on 21 Oct 2005
Author(s): Olivier Shu <cdphandicapbissau@mail.gtelecom.gw>

On 17 October 2005, Guinea-Bissau completed the destruction of antipersonnel mine stockpile, in compliance with its obligations under Article 4 of the Mine Ban Treaty.

BISSAU, 21 October 2005 - On 17 October 2005, outside the city of Gabú, Handicap International was invited to a ceremony that marked the destruction of Guinea-Bissau's last remaining landmine stockpile.

A number of dignitaries attended this event, including the Minister for Veterans Affairs, who is directly responsible for the coordination of mine action, the Minister of Defense as well as the Minister of Interior and other high ranking officials. Representatives from a number of UN agencies also participated, among them UNDP's Deputy Resident Representative and delegates from UNOGBIS and UNICEF. In addition, the ICRC, various national NGOs and a representative of the Portuguese Embassy were present. Two mine survivors were invited to give a testimony on the inhumane effects of antipersonnel mines. A wide variety of media representatives covered the event. In total, around 100 people witnessed the destruction of the country's last stockpile.

During the ceremony, specialists from the Engineering Branch of Guinea-Bissau's Armed Forces proceeded to destroy 4,943 mines, including 3,460 PMD 6, 587 PMD 6M and 896 POMZ2, with the support of technicians from two national demining NGOs.

Speeches to commemorate this event were given by UNDP's Deputy Resident Representative, the Minister of Defense, the Minister of Interior as well as by a representative of the Commander in Chief of Guinea-Bissau's Armed Forces.

The ceremony was organized with the support of the Canadian Government, UNDP and UNICEF.

The destruction of landmine stockpile occurred shortly before Guinea-Bissau's 1 November 2005 Mine Ban Treaty deadline. Guinea-Bissau signed the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production, and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines, and on Their Destruction (Mine Ban Treaty), on 3 December 1997 and became a State Party to the Convention on 1 November 2001. Under the provision of the treaty, a State Party must destroy its stockpile no later than four years after its entry into force. Previously, Guinea-Bissau has destroyed 4,711 stockpiled antipersonnel mines in February 1998, before it signed the treaty, and another 1,000 antipersonnel mines in September 2002. The ceremony on 17 October completed the stockpile destruction.

Guinea-Bissau indicated that it retained 108 mines (50 POMZ 2, 50 PMD 6, 6 PMN, 2 M969 et 1 MAPS) for demining training purposes, as permitted under Article 3 of the Mine Ban Treaty.