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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid