Maputo — Mozambique could be free of anti-personnel land mines by the end of this year, according to the head of operations of the National Demining Institute (IND), Antonio Martins.
Speaking at a Maputo seminar, intended to draw up plans for assisting land mine victims, Martins said that in 2013, 592 areas suspected of containing land mines, and covering a total area of 9.33 million square metres, were demined.
That still leaves another 500 areas suspected of contamination in 19 districts. “A total of 5.6 million square metres needs to be demined”, said Martins, estimating the budget for this at 17 million US dollars. One of the main challenges, he added, is demining the border between Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Martins said that, since 2008, 116 people have fallen victim to land mine accidents. Of these, 45 died, and 71 were maimed.
The demining efforts to date, said Martins, have cleared completely five of the country's 11 provinces - namely Niassa, Cabo Delgado Nampula, Zambezia and Maputo city. Which means there are still areas suspected of containing mines in Tete, Manica, Sofala, Inhambane, Gaza and Maputo province.
For her part, Ivete Alane, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Women's Affairs and Social Welfare, said that 473,971 people in the country suffer from some sort of disability, and of these 2,447 are victims of mines or other explosive devices.
Under the Ottawa Convention on outlawing anti-personnel land mines, Mozambique should have completed demining by 2009 (ten years after Mozambique acceded to the Convention).
This deadline proved impossible to meet, and so Mozambique asked for, and was granted, a five year extension, which runs out this year.