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Angola: three decades of help for mine victims

10-07-2008 News Release 08/122

Luanda/Geneva (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is handing over its physical rehabilitation programme for landmine victims in Angola to the Ministry of Health after nearly 30 years of ICRC support for three centres, in Luanda, Huambo and Kuito.

The staff skills and equipment at these centres are now at the point where the Angolan authorities must show their ability to provide long-term, high-quality support for Angolan mine victims without help from the ICRC.

Between 1975 and 2002, thousands of civilians and military personnel were killed or wounded owing to the massive use of anti-personnel landmines and the extreme violence of the armed conflict in Angola. The Ministry of Health estimated that in 2004 there were some 80,000 landmine amputees in Angola, among them many women and children. The country will long remain severely affected by the tragic consequences of landmines. According to Landmine Monitor, 134 mine-related accidents were reported in 2006. A further 21 accidents were reported in the first three months of 2007.

" Apart from helping mine victims directly, our main goal since the war ended has been to provide Angola with modern tools and skilled personnel, " said Maryse Limoner, head of the ICRC delegation in Luanda. " This has boosted the country's ability to produce and maintain artificial limbs and to give people the physical rehabilitation they need. Today we're very happy to hand over full responsibility for the programme to the Angolan authorities. The biggest challenge now is to make sure that people in need have access to care. One thing we're doing is facilitating transport for patients to and from the centres. "

During its 29 years of cooperation with Angola's Ministry of Health, the ICRC spent some 42 million Swiss francs to supply the three physical rehabilitation centres with equipment and training that made possible the production of nearly 32,000 artif icial limbs, 724 orthoses and some 38,500 crutches. In addition, it distributed over 900 wheelchairs. In three decades, thousands of Angolans have benefited from the ICRC's programme.

Immediately after the peace agreement was reached in 2002, Angola launched the process of signing and ratifying the Ottawa Convention banning anti-personnel landmines. It has been bound by that Convention since January 2003.

  For further information, please contact:
  Maryse Limoner, ICRC Luanda, tel: +244 924 068 523
  Anna Schaaf, ICRC Geneva, tel:+41 22 730 2271 or +41 70 217 3217