UNDP designs emergency plan for displaced landmines in Mozambique

Maputo, Mozambique, 14 March 2000 - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the National Institute for Mine Clearance (IND) in Mozambique announced today an emergency plan in response to the problem of landmines displaced by the severe flooding in Mozambique.
The first step of the three month plan is to identify densely populated areas at risk of the displaced landmines. Teams of deminers will be redirected from their regular tasks to collect data on minefields affected by the floods, and to promote mine awareness among people in camps for the displaced population. A special team of experts on unexploded ordnance will also be dispatched to determine the effect of the floods on other explosives. 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. In some areas, mines that were previously marked have been washed away. Areas that were safe, located downstream from minefields may now be littered with mines. "They could be one kilometre downstream, or perhaps 20 kilometres, we just don't know," said de Casterle.

In Moamba in southern Mozambique, deminers are already clearing land where the water has receded in order to allow for reconstruction of a power line and a bridge that was destroyed by flooding of the Incomati river.

Experts estimate that there are still between one and two million landmines in Mozambique. Last year, 12 people were killed and 48 injured by the explosives. The landmines were planted during a two decade long civil war, which ended in 1992.

For further information, please contact Sid Kane (212) 906-5324 at UNDP in New York or Trygve Olfarnes 258 82 316 375 at UNDP in Maputo.