Mozambique declared mine-free: Handicap International hails major achievement
Mozambique was officially declared mine-free today. Handicap International, one of the country’s main mine action organisations, hailed the announcement as a victory for the people of Mozambique. Liberated from this threat, which has caused thousands of casualties, Mozambicans can finally look forward to opportunities for growth previously made impossible by the presence of mines.
Benvinda, one of Handicap International's amazing deminers, that has helped to free Mozambique from the scourge of landmines. | © J-J. Bernard / Handicap International
A victory for everyone in Mozambique
From the start of the demining operations in 1998, Handicap International was a key actor in Mozambique's mine clearance. Over a period of 17 years, our team demined more than 16 million square metres of land, and neutralised 6,000 anti-personnel mines and 5,000 explosive remnants of war.
The legacy of landmines will continue
“It’s a victory for everyone in Mozambique. Now children can play outside, farmers can work their fields, and villages can grow without the fear of setting off a mine,” explains Grégory Le Blanc, head of Handicap International’s mission in Mozambique.
However, the country needs to continue helping victims, because 'mine-free' doesn’t mean that the victims of these barbaric weapons have disappeared.” Under the terms of the Ottawa Treaty , the Government is obliged to continue helping thousands of mine accident survivors. Injured people will need rehabilitation and orthopaedic care and support to ensure their meaningful inclusion in all aspects of social and economic life.
“The international community also needs to keep up its efforts against mines,” adds Grégory Le Blanc. “Although we’ve made a lot of progress, there’s still a long way to go in terms of funding for demining, victim assistance and risk education. By staying the course for so many years, Mozambique has shown that it is possible to beat anti-personnel mines. It sends out a message of hope to all countries which are having to deal with this terrible burden.”
It has taken more than 20 years of hard work by several demining operators to eradicate mines in Mozambique. A devastating 25-year war of independence (1965-1975), followed by a civil war (1977-1992), had left Mozambique among the most mined countries in the world, along with Angola, Afghanistan and Cambodia. Today, Handicap International is happy to celebrate the country's fantastic achievement.