Today, Britain's Prince Harry starts a two-day visit to Angola as part of a tour that will take him to South Africa, Botswana, and Malawi. While in Angola, Harry will visit a HALO Trust demining project in Huambo province, which his late mother Princess Diana had brought global attention to when she visited in 1997. Today, the area is cleared, and the roads have been made safe. But this is not the case in many parts of Angola.
Angola is severely impacted by antipersonnel mines and unexploded ordnance, including some cluster munition remnants, used during Angola's civil war that ended in 2002. The government reports that at least 1,220 areas in Angola are still contaminated with landmines, down from 2,700 in 2007. The most affected provinces are Cuando Cubango, Moxico, Cuanza Sul, and Bié.
Almost 17 years after the end of the war, landmines and explosive remnants of war continue to kill and maim in Angola, and children are the main victims. Last year, the government recorded 28 landmine incidents that killed 19 people, including 8 children. In June, 5 children were seriously injured by a landmine while they were hunting in the bush in Benguela province. A month before, 9 children ages 3 to 11 were injured after they detonated a landmine in their house compound in Cuito, Bié province.
The Angolan government and its international partners should step up efforts to clear the country of landmines, making the global campaign "Landmine Free 2025"a reality.
Angola is party to the Mine Ban Treaty and is a signatory to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. While it has spent the past decade pledging to ratify the cluster munitions treaty, the government has not introduced a ratification measure for parliamentary consideration and approval.
During his visit to Angola, Prince Harry is set to meet President Joao Lourenço. He should use the opportunity to encourage the Angolan leader to prioritize landmine clearance and provide assistance to the victims of landmines and explosive remnants of war.