State Evacuates Landmine Victims

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GOVERNMENT has evacuated five landmine victims, including two elderly women and a pupil, from Chavuma District to Lusaka for specialist treatment at the cost of about K25 million.

Community Development, Mother and Child Health Deputy Minister, Jean Kapata arrived with the five at Kenneth Kaunda International Airportyesterday around 11:00 hours aboard a Super King Air B200 plane chartered by Meanwood chairperson, Robinson Zulu.

Steven Nguvulo, Nelson Kawele, Richard Kamawe, Lwinie Kawina and Nyachipango Kahalu, each lost a leg after they stepped on landmines.

Mr Kawele, 51, lost a leg in 1986 and had been using an artificial limb made out of a bamboo. Speaking shortly after arrival, Ms Kapata said the five were identified on June 13, this year during a visit to Chavuma and that Government, through her ministry and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, being "pro poor" saw it fit to assist them especially that their appeal to previous administrations had proven futile.

Ms Kapata said the victims had been evacuated to Lusaka to be assisted with artificial limbs at the Italian Orthopaedic Hospital.

National Committee on Landmines member and Zambia Anti-Personnel Mine Action Centre (ZMAC) acting director, Eunice Luambia said the exercise would costK25 million, broken down into K5 million for each victim.

The five were expected to be in Lusaka for up to two weeks and their treatment and accommodation expenses would be handled by Government.

"When you ask them history, some of them have had loss of limbs 20 years ago and Government never did anything.

Therefore, the Patriotic Front Government has seen it fit that this is time that we must attend to our people that unfortunately stepped on landmines," she said.

Ms Kapata appealed to other well-wishers to emulate Mr Zulu, whom she thanked for chartering the plane, to partner with Government to assist those in need.

She also implored people living in once landmine-infested areas to be cautious even if Zambia had been declared a landmine-free country.

One of the victims Nguvulo 19, a Grade 11 pupil at Chavuma High School, thanked Government for coming to their aid and appealed for similar assistance to others affected in a similar manner.