- The Mine Action programme for Angola in 2005 alone will cost US$ 88 million. The de-mining programme has been approved by the Angolan government and will include 231 large and minor projects, including education and assistance to mine victims. Still, up to five million mines may rest in Angolan soil.
According to the latest numbers revealed by the National De-mining Institute of Angola (INAD) in Luanda recently, there still exist between four and five million mines on Angolan territory, placed in the soil during the four decades of hostilities in the country.
Deming is however progressing rapidly. More than 2.2 million square kilometres of Angolan soil have already been de-mined. To this adds more than 104,000 kilometres of roads and other communication lines, which have been cleaned of the deadly weapon.
According to Balbina Dias da Silva, national coordinator of the Mines Action Programme in Angola, the principal aim of the de-mining process at this step is to secure the safe resettlement of the large population that had to flee their lands during the war. The programme thus focuses on removing and destroying landmines and marking or fencing off areas contaminated with them.
- At this moment we are working in the sense of cleaning the areas of access for the populations so that there can be movement of persons and goods, Ms da Silva told the UN's radio service in Portuguese. "We are also determined to clean out some areas to resettle populations, especially refugees, persons displaced by the war and those Angolans coming from the border areas."
Ms da Silva says that the government programme has already been able to assist "a significant part of the population to resettle," but there were still vast challenges ahead. "The country is enormous and the operational capacity of our national organisations is limited," she said, explaining that for this reason, international partners are still assisting Angolan authorities.
The plague of landmines indeed still is an enormous problem in Angola. Large parts of the most fertile lands in the country are infested and the presence of mines is still severely limiting food production in Angola. A steadily growing number of children and adults are injured for life by the mines.
While large tracts of land already have been de-mined, the majority of landmines in Angolan soil still have to be detected. Therefore, in most regions that receive returnees, people are driven into passivity in camps, surrounded by potentially fertile lands.
In particular Angola's children are victimised by the mines. Landmines often have odd colours and shapes, making the irresistible for small children to pick up and "play" with. Returnees are being educated about the dangers of the landmines, keeping their children off the potentially mortal playgrounds.
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