Mozambique Mine Free After 20 Years!
After nearly two decades of humanitarian demining in Mozambique, the country is celebrating today the completion of all landmine clearance operations and declaring itself mine-free. Mozambique’s last known minefields have been cleared for safe use by local populations, and Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) was an instrumental part of this victory for its people.
NPA was one of the first humanitarian demining operators in Mozambique until it phased out the program in 2006, and returned 6 years later in 2012 to finish the job at the request of the Mozambican government. Since then, NPA has played a critical role both in surveying and clearing contaminated land as well as supporting the governmental authorities in information management and quality control of the work taking place in the field. That work was supported generously by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the United Nations Development Program.
“This is a huge accomplishment for Mozambique and NPA is extremely proud to have helped make it happen,” explains NPA’s Deputy Director Atle Karlsen. “But it’s also an important milestone for the global community focused on addressing the threat landmines represent to life and development in every mine-affected country.”
“Mozambique had a serious and world-renown problem with landmine contamination,” Karlsen explains, “and its success in putting the problem behind it should be hugely motivating for other countries struggling to respect their obligations as signatories to the Mine Ban Treaty, especially those with comparatively limited problems.”
NPA may have accomplished its primary objective in its partnership with Mozambique, but it is far from time for the organization to sit on its laurels. Currently NPA personnel are winding down a project funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) to help Mozambican authorities develop a national approach to deal with residual risk in the coming years. Just last month NPA technical specialists helped the Mozambican military destroy its last remaining stockpiles of cluster munitions—another important achievement both in terms of respecting the country’s treaty obligations and preventing loss of life.