1,3 million Square metres, 144 Cluster Bomblets, 50 Antipersonnel Mines and 23 UXOs: Norwegian People’s Aid is proud to announce that we have finished clearing cluster munitions in Mozambique. This happens only a year after Mozambique was declared free of landmines in September 2015.
Partaking in Mozambique achieving this key milestone is very gratifying. A safer Mozambique free from cluster munition contamination has always been the apex of our commitment, says Programme Manager for Norwegian People’s Aid in Mozambique, Afedra Robert Iga.
Mozambique signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 3rd December 2008, ratified it on 14th March 2011 before it entered into force on 1st September of 2011. Assenting to the convention also meant that Mozambique had committed itself in ensuring that it surveys and clears all cluster munition contaminated areas in its jurisdiction.
In the wake of successfully fulfilling Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty last year, Mozambique embarked on an expeditious programme in an attempt to get rid of cluster munition remnants before December 2016.
With the support from the Norwegian Peoples Aid (NPA) and funding from the UNDP, Mozambique implemented a comprehensive cluster munitions remnant survey (CMRS) in 2015. The survey covered four provinces of Gaza, Manica, Tete, and Niasa that had a history of aerial bombardment during the periods of war in the country, Iga explains.
According to Iga, the CMRS confirmed that there were cluster munitions in 10 areas in the provinces of Manica and Tete. Gaza and Niasa were found to have no contaminations. The survey covered a total of 4 provinces, 21 districts and 89 communities and the area confirmed contaminated measured approximately 800,000 square metres.
At the request of the Mozambique National Demining Institute (IND) Norwegian People’s Aid undertook clearance activities in 2016, thanks to funding from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This has resulted in the release of nearly 1,4 million square metres through surface and subsurface clearance techniques, and the destruction of a total of 144 Rhodesian Cluster ALPHA Bomblets (892kgs), 50 Antipersonnel Mines, and 23 UXOs. The involvement of NPA in the CMRS and clearance in Mozambique was a continuation of NPA’s already existing footprint in the country that spans over 20 years, partaking in mine clearance activities.
The completion of cluster munitions clearance in Mozambique by NPA coupled with previous clearance efforts from other demining partners like APOPO, HALO Trust and Handicap International means that the country has formally taken all necessary efforts in clearing all known cluster munition contamination in its jurisdiction, and hence achieving her obligation under Article 4 of the Convention on Cluster Munitions well ahead of its 2021 deadline.
We are yet again proud that our people have a safer country and they are able to cultivate their land without the fear of explosive remnants of war”, says Director of the National Demining Institute in Mozambique, Alberto Maverengue Augusto in a comment.
Cluster munitions in Mozambique
Cluster munition contamination in Mozambique is a result of extended periods of conflict in the late 70s between the Mozambican government and the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) against the then Rhodesian Governments in Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Cluster munitions and a variety of ammunition were used by warring factions in the western provinces of Mozambique.
The cluster contamination in particularly is a result of a number of successive conflicts over the period including; 1976 Rhodesian “Operation Dingo” against ZANLA forces in Manica Province, 1977 Rhodesian “Operation Snoopy” against ZANLA forces in Manica and Tete Provinces and 1979 Rhodesian “Operation Ulric” against Mozambique forces and ZANLA forces in Gaza Province. During all these conflicts, cluster munitions were used especially in the border provinces west of Mozambique.