Mozambique is set to declare itself landmine-free, as the last known explosive has been destroyed after over two decades of demining work. Thousands of landmines were planted across the country during Mozambique's independence war against Portugal (1964-75) and a civil war beginning in 1976, which continued to kill civilians even after a peace deal was reached in 1992.
A British mine clearance company has been at the forefront of the mine removal attempts in Mozambique for 22 years, taking responsibility for 80% of the landmines that have been destroyed. The HALO Trust began their mine clearance programme in Mozambique in 1993. The group said that landmines in the country had caused hundreds of accidents every year, including amputations and deaths.
The charity employed more than 1,600 Mozambicans to help with their work in the region and has cited numerous benefits of the mine clearance, including the ability to cultivate crops, graze livestock, develop infrastructure and access commodities such as gas and coal.
Tourism and international investment could also benefit as the country becomes safer and HALO Trust claims that Mozambique's GDP has increased by 7% every year since HALO started their demining work there.
Alberto Augusto, Director of the Mozambique Institute of Demining, has said while it was "tremendously difficult" to rid the country of landmines, he commends the "bravery and determination" of his demining teams. Mozambique now sets a positive example for other countries still crippled by landmines, proving that it is possible for countries to become mine free.
"Mozambique is a compelling example of how dealing with the deadly debris of war systematically and in partnership with government, local people and donors can bring stability, recovery and growth to countries ravaged by war," said James Cowan, CEO of The HALO Trust. "HALO... hopes today's news provides the momentum to strive for a mine free world by 2025."
Statistics show that 10 people around the world are hurt or killed by landmines every day. There are still 60 countries that are plagued by landmines, putting thousands at risk every year. The International Campaign for Landmines also states that four countries might still be producing landmines today: India, Myanmar, Pakistan, and South Korea.