News / Africa

    Mozambique Makes Push to Be Landmine-Free

    FILE - An anti-personnel mine detecting worker stands at a mine field near Vilancoulos in southern Mozambique, 450 km (265 miles) north east of Maputo, Nov. 2004 file photo.
    FILE - An anti-personnel mine detecting worker stands at a mine field near Vilancoulos in southern Mozambique, 450 km (265 miles) north east of Maputo, Nov. 2004 file photo.
    Two decades ago, when a devastating civil war ended, Mozambique was considered one of the countries most gravely affected by landmines.  Now the country is hoping to be declared mine-free by the end of the year.  But, as the world marks the International Day of Mine Awareness on April 4, will revived hostilities between the two civil war enemies - Frelimo, which runs the government, and Renamo, which is now the opposition - keep the country from reaching its target?
     
    Luis Wammasse was a young soldier fighting in Mozambique's civil war when he stepped on a landmine.
     
    His says his story is "no different from that of many Mozambicans."  He lost his leg during the civil war when he was 22 years old.  He says he was forced to stop school because as the son of a farmer he could no longer help with chores to finance his education.

    He says he lost his confidence and could not face the world until he was lucky enough to find people to help him believe in himself again.

    Far from giving up, Wamusse founded an organization which helps other land mine victims.  There are some 20,000 still scattered across Mozambique.

    Many are peasants, living in remote rural areas and have no means to heal.  Some use tree branches to construct crutches.  Some never get to a hospital at all.

    He says his organization meets people who are living with shrapnel from the blast in their bodies.  They were never operated on because they have no way to get to the city to get help.

    Challenging task

    De-mining presents a special challenge in a country where frequent floods displace landmines.  Some landmines date back not just to the civil war, but to the war against Portuguese rule.  And no charts exist to help find them, explains the director of Mozambique's national de-mining institute, Alberto Augusto.
     
    "The difficulty is we don't have maps," he said. "No one knows where the mines are except the community.   Maybe a cow died here because of a mine or someone died from an accident and then we start."
     
    As time goes on, accidents are increasingly rare.  Last year there were only four.  All the victims were de-mining personnel.
     
    With the help of foreign donors including the United States, Britain, Norway and Japan, 200,000 landmines have been cleared so far.
     
    Renewed insurgency

    The country is hoping to be declared free of known landmines by the end of the year.
     
    But, there is an unexpected complication: most of the landmines that still need to be cleared are in central Mozambique, in Sofala province, where Renamo has reignited a fresh although low-level insurgency against the government. 
     
    "We have challenges of course.  One of the challenges is Sofala, and particularly, Chibabava.  Last year we withdrew our people very early, early, I think in September.  In fact we had two people injured in that area where the conflict is in fact taking place," Augusto explained.
     
    With the de-mining effort on hold in central Mozambique, Alberto Augusto said Renamo and the government must agree to a cease-fire by May in order for de-miners to finish the job by year's end.
     
    In June, Mozambique will host the 161 signatories of the 1999 International treaty to ban anti-personnel mines.  The country hopes to it can keep its promise and be free of landmines by December 31.

    You May Like

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.