UN development agency to cope with landmines displaced by floods in Mozambique

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) announced today an emergency plan to address the problem of landmines displaced by severe flooding in Mozambique.
In cooperation with the National Institute for Mine Clearance (IND), UNDP will first identify the most populated at-risk areas, dispatch deminers to collect data on the minefields displaced by the floods and carry out mine awareness campaigns among people in camps. A special team of experts on unexploded ordnance will also be sent to determine the effect of the floods on the explosives, the agency said.

UNDP and the IND will design a new mine action programme for Mozambique, based on the new circumstances caused by the flooding.

"The flooding has changed the whole basis for our demining work in the affected areas," said UNDP Resident Representative Emmanuel de Casterle. "[The mines] could be one kilometre downstream, or perhaps 20 kilometres, we just don't know."

Experts estimate that there are still between one and two million landmines in Mozambique - all planted during the country's 20-year civil war that ended in 1992. Last year, a dozen people were killed and 48 others injured by the explosives, UNDP said.

In other news, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) today launched a new appeal for nearly $34 million to help feed the hundreds of thousands of Mozambicans left homeless by the floods.

"Thanks to the generosity and quick reactions of governments, private individuals and other NGOs, we were able to assemble and coordinate a dramatic search and rescue mission that saved thousands of lives," said Georgia Shaver, Maputo-based WFP regional manager for southern Africa.

WFP's latest appeal raises the total funding requirement for Mozambique to $45.2 million. The agency has received $13 million in response to its first appeal on 24 February.