New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: Government to Compensate Over 2,000 Landmine Victims

ALL people who were affected by mines during insurgencies are to be rehabilitated and compensated by Government to change their livelihoods.

The state minister for relief, disaster preparedness and refugees, Musa Ecweru noted that about 2,000 land mine victims and others maimed by the Lord Resistance Army (LRA) rebels have already been registered for rehabilitation and assistance to change their lives.

Ecweru said they are working with the ministry of gender to make sure that all victims are catered for.

"We are not only looking at rehabilitating them. We want to make sure that these people leave normal lives like others still have all their body parts intact. Many of the victims we are looking at lost their limbs, legs and hands and they are helpless. It was not their wish, that is why Government decided to come out to assist them," he said.

Ecweru revealed this while addressing journalists at the Uganda Media Centre in Kampala yesterday.

He said a Victims Assistance Intervention law is being worked on by the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) together with the gender ministry to make sure that the victims are fully assisted.

Ecweru said they have already started giving out artificial limbs to those who lost them during the LRA insurgency mainly in Lamwo district near the Sudan boarder. Government is also working together with Hand Cap International (HCI) to counsel those victims who had lost hope.

Government has also announced Uganda a mine free country following a clearing exercise which started in 2006 by the Uganda Mine Action Unit operating under the OPM. The exercise was done with from the Danish Demining Group.

The entire exercise cost $10.294,186 with $6.794,186 from donors and $3.5m from Government.

Ecweru said 46 mine areas in Northern Uganda, West Nile and Ruwenzori sub-regions are now free of mines. He said 1,617, 156 square meters of area has already been released.

Other partners who contributed to the cause include; United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Austria, Norway, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark and Belgium.

Ecweru said Uganda has now fulfilled the Implementation of the Article 5, of the international convention on the prohibition of the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines and on their destruction.

During the exercise 4,314 anti-personnel mines, 20 antitank mines and 9, 2273 were recovered and destroyed.

He said they are planning to restart Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) and mine clearance operations for the next three years (2013 to 2015).

"UMCA plans to engage at least 60 personnel on EOD operation during the period. It is also envisaged that the EOD teams will carry out any other tasks as shall be assigned by UMAC," Ecweru noted.

He noted that all people in the cleared areas were now free to cultivate their land but asked them to remain cautious on anything strange.

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