Landmines cleared from Mozambique

Mozambique officially declared landmine-free after two decades of cleanup operations

Photo by: Public Domain
Photo by: Public Domain

Updated Sep 18, 2015

Mozambique has declared that all landmines in the country have been cleared after 20 years of clean-up work.

According to British charity Halo Trust, which helped remove the explosives, almost 171,000 landmines were removed.

The clean-up efforts officially came to an end when the last mine was cleared from underneath a railway bridge, the BBC reported on Thursday.

Speaking to the Guardian newspaper, Albert Augusto, the director of Mozambique’s National Demining Institute said that “many people thought Mozambique would take a hundred years to demine the whole country. We ended up demining in less than 30.”

“The key was the commitment of the government having a clear plan, doing it district by district, and the generosity of donors. Donors go anywhere there is a clear plan and they can see the value of money.”

In an interview with TRT World, Pascal Rapillard from the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) said, "there are a number of different methods and approaches that have been applied in Mozambique ... they actually implemented the most up to date methodology when it comes to mine clearence." 

"Rather than spending expensive resources in areas which didn't contain any mines, they dedicated a lot of efforts on survey, thus making sure that clearence assets are allocated where they're needed."

The landmines were planted between the 1960s and 1990s amid the country’s war of independence from Portugal and the subsequent civil war.

Halo Trust has been working in the country since 1993 and has spent almost $285 million on the clean-up operation.

In the early stages of the clean-up, around 600 people were dying every year due to the mines, but this had dropped to 13 by 2013.

After clearing up to  1,118 minefields covering around 17 million metres squared of land, the Mozambique government now hopes to use the land for agriculture.

Mozambique is now the first heavily mined country to declare itself mine-free.

TRTWorld and agencies