News / Africa

Zimbabwe Seeks Funds to Remove Landmines

FILE - A portable display teaches children and farmers what landmines and hand grenades look like. (U. Filimonova/VOA)FILE - A portable display teaches children and farmers what landmines and hand grenades look like. (U. Filimonova/VOA)
x
FILE - A portable display teaches children and farmers what landmines and hand grenades look like. (U. Filimonova/VOA)
FILE - A portable display teaches children and farmers what landmines and hand grenades look like. (U. Filimonova/VOA)
The International Committee of the Red Cross [ICRC] and the government of Zimbabwe have embarked on a landmine removal campaign in a village on the border with Mozambique. Zimbabwe's government is struggling to raise funds for demining, and some people are being maimed or killed by old mines still in the ground.

A loud sound that can be heard is a mock landmine explosion set off by Zimbabwe's army in Gonarezhou National Park, near the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border.  

But explosions like this still happen 33 years after the country won its independence. People get maimed. Some even killed.

Thirty-year-old Philemon Sibanda lost a limb after he stepped on a landmine in 1998 while herding cattle in his village.

“They have not even cleared the area of landmines. As for me, I have no life. I am just seated. If I had not been injured I would be tilling the land as others are doing. Those who are able-bodied are crossing into South Africa to look for employment,” he said.

Sibanda can’t walk, as the prosthetic limb that was donated to him by the charity World Vision now causes pain if he uses it. He needs a new one, but cannot afford it.

Hundreds of thousands of mines laid in the 1970s during Zimbabwe's independence war still litter the ground at sites across the country. According to Halo Trust, a British-based demining organization, Zimbabwe is one of the densest minefields in the world, with approximately 5,500 unexploded landmines per kilometer.  

It will take an estimated $100 million to clear them - a sum Zimbabwe does not have and is struggling to raise.

Army Colonel Mkhululi Ncube, who heads the demining exercise, said removal will take another 30 years if the international community does not chip in.

“The government had been funding the mine-clearing operation since 1982. We need assistance. There is no country, which is a state party to the Ottawa treaty, which does not get assistance from the international community,” said Ncube.

In 1999, Zimbabwe became a signatory to the Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of the Production, Transfer, Stockpiling and Use of Anti-Personnel Landmines. The country was supposed to have cleared its landmines within 10 years of signing the treaty.

Germany, the United States and the European Union funded the demining exercise, but at some point withdrew, as accusations against President Robert Mugabe of human rights violations piled up.

The International Committee of the Red Cross is now training the army personnel who are removing mines on Zimbabwe-Mozambique border, and giving them the necessary equipment.

Olivier Dubois, who heads the ICRC in Zimbabwe, explained why his organization is now assisting in the demining of Zimbabwe. “Zimbabwe was left a bit alone to do the job. So when they approached us in 2011, we said, 'yeah, they need that kind of support' that we could offer. People are still being affected in their daily life.”

Dubois notes that mines have even injured livestock as they tried to graze - making it more urgent they be removed so Zimbabweans can live less in fear.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs