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African Union: Experts discuss weapon contamination in Africa

04-03-2013 News Release 13/35

Addis Ababa (ICRC) – Landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive devices from past conflicts kill and injure hundreds every year in Africa.

This week, over 60 experts will meet at the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to find ways to clear affected land faster and more effectively.

The joint African Union/ICRC workshop on weapons contamination will run from 5 to 7 March. "There has been great progress on weapon clearance over the years. But the job is not yet done and many African countries remain badly affected by landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war," explained ICRC legal adviser Nicole Hogg. “This represents a significant cost to the countries concerned, in human, social and economic terms.” Weapon contamination also restricts access to valuable land and impedes development.

"The aim of the workshop is to allow experts involved in clearance operations in Africa to share experiences and tackle obstacles to freeing the continent of this scourge," explained Ms Hogg. Experts will discuss the challenges to meeting clearance obligations under the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention and the Convention on Cluster Munitions, under which States have undertaken to destroy all anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions on their territory. Discussions will focus on the practical aspects of clearance operations and on proposals for strengthening assistance to affected countries.

Participants will include staff from the AU Commission, technical personnel from national mine action centres, demining operators, plus experts from the ICRC, the United Nations and a demining training centre in Benin.

The discussions will result in a report detailing the challenges that AU Member States face in their clearance operations and the support required. The AU Commission and the ICRC hope to strengthen intra-African cooperation and to support countries as they clear and destroy anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions.

For further information, please contact:
Desalegne Tadesse, ICRC Addis Ababa, tel: +251 11 647 83 20 / 21 / 22