About 183 square feet of land has been cleared of explosives in the East African state of Mozambique. After over 19 years of work, the HALO Trust charity in charge of clearance, reports some 171, 000 land mines have been removed since 1993. According to the BBC, the mines were planted in dams, bridges, and electric pylons. Now void of mines, the land can be used for purposes such as agriculture and other natural resource potentials. The Foreign Affairs Minister Oldemiro, speaking at a ceremony in the capital of Maputo, declared:
“I have the honour to declare Mozambique as a country free of the threat of land mines.”
While the exact measure of damage caused by land mines in this country is unknown, a 1994 Human Rights Watch report states that land mines have claimed between 10,000 to 15,000 victims, with about 8,000 created amputees. The land mines are left overs of the civil war that plagued the nation of Mozambique, considered as one of the least developed in the world. The explosives are generally planted to target war enemies, but it reportedly victimizes civilians, including children, who are exposed to great physical harm as they go about playing where land mines have been planted.
The benefit of such a milestone cannot be overemphasized. The exploitation of the tourism sector, the agricultural sector, as well as the exploitation of coal, can be conveniently improved upon. Mozambique has suffered 16 to 20 years of civil war which eventually subsided in 1992. Faced with a herculean task of rebuilding their economy, civilians now had to deal with a new threat of encountering random land mines. These land mines had been indiscriminately scattered by both rebels and the government during the fighting, rendering large areas of the country unfit for human habitation. Consequently, Mozambique was declared one of world’s most heavily mined countries.
The convention on the Prohibition of the use, stock piling, production and transfer of anti-personal mines and on their destruction, adopted in 1997, prohibits anti-personal land mines. The respect of this treaty has been instrumental in regulating conduct in hostile situations. This convention has helped reduce the number of casualties by increasing the number of mine free states in Mozambique.
A 2006 UNICEF report states that children are the most vulnerable to land mines. Many children have lost their limbs, with some being rendered blind. The report further indicates that since 1975, the device has killed more than 1 million people, and continues to kill 800 victims every month, disabling hundreds of others. Women and children in Angola also accounted for the country’s largest number of amputees. Meanwhile, in El Salvador, about 75% of those injured or killed were children. It should be noted that these land mines often remain active for decades.
The Organization for World Peace is of the opinion that laws aimed at putting a ban on such weapons should be enforced. Meanwhile, continuous efforts to rid land of all explosives should be encouraged. This will guarantee the protection of children who are generally the most vulnerable.
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