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Zambia Seeks Help In Clearing Landmines Along Borders - 2003-10-30


The Zambian government says minefields left over from Africa’s wars of independence have been found along its borders with Zimbabwe, Angola and the DRC. As a result, it’s asking the international community for two million dollars to help clear the weapons.

Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Davison Mulela says Zambia needs help in modern methods of demining. He says the areas identified as mined are so vast that the current methods of removing the landmines by hand would delay the process.

"Taking into consideration the nature of mine contamination in Zambia, it has been realized that Mine Detection Dogs would be most useful in facilitating proper, efficient and speedy demining of the area. We would therefore be most grateful for assistance in creating a Mine Detection Dogs Team."

The deputy minister says a Mines Impact Survey was taken recently in areas bordering the DRC in the north, the areas bordering Zimbabwe and Angola - and in the capital, Lusaka. Without giving any figures, the minister says the survey found landmines and unexploded ordnance in these areas.

A report given to donors indicates that landmines have had a serious impact on agriculture in the rural parts of Zambia. Experts say unless the weapons are cleared many farmers will be afraid to till their land.

The landmines have either killed or maimed some civilians. A number of the victims have been young people who stumbled upon and played with them as if they were toys.

The frequency by which these incidents occurred forced government to set up a National Task Force on landmines in line with the International Landmine Treaty. Signatories to the treaty agree not to use, stockpile or transfer Anti-Personnel Mines.

In the early seventies, Zambia hosted a number of liberation movements from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Their presence attracted attacks, including the planting of landmines, which sometimes killed innocent people.

For VOA’S English-to-Africa service, this is Kellys Kaunda reporting from Lusaka, Zambia.

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