Mozambique’s Foreign Minister Oldemiro Baloi addressed the ceremony, which was also attended by representatives of the United Nations, the main humanitarian demining agencies, and the donors who had funded mine clearance.
Baloi announced that Mozambique has achieved the target of freeing all known mined areas in the country, thus become the first of the five most severely mined countries in the world to comply with the mine clearance obligations of the Ottawa Convention.
The other four are Afghanistan, Cambodia, Angola and South Sudan.
But in order to deal with the possible explosive devices left from the war, the country’s foreign minister said the ideal would be to place at least two police officers in each of Mozambique’s 141 districts with the skills to respond to any requests concerning the discovery and disposal of explosive devices.
Speaking at the ceremony, the director of the National Demining Institute (IND), Alberto Augusto, said that since 2000 about 214,700 land mines have been removed and destroyed across the country.
Land mines had been planted all over Mozambique during the war. This was in addition to the landmines planted by the Portuguese during the independence struggle from 1964 to 1974. By the end of the civil war Mozambique was one of the world’s most heavily mined countries.
In 1998, the former Portuguese colony ratified the Ottawa Convention outlawing anti-personnel mines.
The treaty took effect in March, 1999, and Mozambique had a ten-year period to clear all mines from its territory.
From its first national survey of mined areas held between 2000 and 2001, Mozambique found that there were minefields in all ten provinces. An estimated 556 million square metres were affected, directly impacting on the lives of 791 villages and 1.5 million people.
Thus, Mozambique requested and was granted a five-year extension, bringing the deadline to 2014. Enditem