News / Africa

Angola Still Riddled With Landmines, Despite Efforts

MALANGE, Angola – Ten years after the end of the civil war in Angola, the country still remains, despite its best efforts, one of the most unexploded mine-affected countries in the world. The African nation was due to finish the demining by 2013, but the Angolan government is requesting a five-year extension to complete the task.

Cautiously, meter after meter, a deminer checks if the ground is clear of mines and unexploded devices. He is working on a demining zone operated by the NGO Norwegian People's Aid five hours east of the capital city, Luanda. His team has been here for two months, just steps away from a village.

Most villagers have been living here for a long time. They left during the fighting, and came back when the war ended in 2002, only to find their land riddled with mines.  Angie Labento, who has been living here for 20 years, already sees a difference since the demining operation started.

"We are very thankful; soon the kids will be able to run around. We were afraid before, so we are very thankful,” says Labento.

But the main life-changer is yet to come for the villagers. The team is working to reopen for them access to the water tank located in the middle of the minefield. Soon, they will finally have water running down the taps again, for the first time in decades.
 
A heavy price paid

According to the United Nations Development Program, more than 80,000 people in Angola have been maimed by landmines since war broke out in 1975, and thousands more were killed. One out of eight Angolans lives in a landmine-affected community, and the 30 years of war have riddled all provinces with mines.
 
And now, as people are relocating and claiming more land for agriculture, the pressure is high to catch up with the demining.
 
Norwegian People's Aid's team leader Francisco Nonda says the deminers also rely on villagers to tell them where the mines and other explosive devices are located.

"We have a team to sensibilize the people on the risks and on the danger of mines and other unexploded devices. They are very conscious of this. And when they find something on the field, they let us know, so we collaborate together on this."

The Norwegian NGO works with the national demining commission, CNIDAH, which coordinates the efforts of both NGOs and local demining teams. The commission monitors the operations all across the country.

Demining for development

CNIDAH's departmental head of operations, Brigadier Roque de Oliveira, says the government has put a great deal of effort into demining, because it is deemed crucial for the development of the country.

"For Angola to grow and develop, especially in agriculture, we need to demine. For Angola to build houses and schools that were destroyed during the war, we need to demine. And we need to demine railroads to improve development as well."

Besides agriculture, the country and the region also have the potential for tourism. Just a few kilometers away from the landmines are the third biggest waterfalls in Africa. Ten years ago, few people would venture here. Today, it has become a popular place for locals and expatriates to visit.
 
The Angolan government has recently asked for a five-year extension to finish demining, arguing that only 40 percent of the job has been completed in the past decade.

You May Like

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Video Kenyans Lament Al-Shabab's Recruitment of Youths

VOA travels to Isiolo, where residents share their fears, struggles to get loved ones back from Somalia-based militant group More

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensionsi
X
May 26, 2015 11:11 PM
When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs