Mozambique

Landmines remain threat to Mozambicans

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MAPUTO, Jun 8, 2005 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Although Mozambique has been at peace for over 12 years, landmines remain a threat to human life and a serious obstacle to economic development programs in parts of Mozambican countryside.

This is a common view of participants of the annual meeting of demining operators with those of the Mozambican government's cooperation partners, held in Maputo on Wednesday.

Mozambique's Foreign Minister Alcinda Abreu, who chaired the meeting, stressed that in its five-year program, the government considered demining as a cross-cutting issue to be taken into consideration in all development areas of the country.

According to official data, in 2004, the area known to be affected by mines in the country was reduced by more than half. At the end of 2003, suspected minefields affected an area of 528 million square meters, and 583 villages. By the end of 2004, these numbers had been reduced to 171.6 million square meters and 204 villages.

As for the physical removal of mines in 2004, a total of 18,600 mines and 80,628 other items of unexploded ordnance were located and destroyed - a considerable increase on the 10,613 mines and 13, 499 other ordnance destroyed the previous year.

The target Mozambique is aiming for is to find and destroy all land mines by 2009 - that is the deadline set by the Ottawa Convention outlawing anti-personnel mines, to which Mozambique is a signatory.

The coordinator of the UN system in Mozambique, Marylene Spezzati, told the meeting that this target can only be reached with a coordination of efforts from the government, the demining operators, civil society and the donors.

Over the past ten years or so, about 150 million US dollars has been spent on demining in Mozambique. For 2005, the amount pledged for demining is 10.6 million dollars.