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Landmines: Africa moves with a bang towards a ban

22-05-1997 News Release 97/19

Representatives of more than 40 African States gathered in Johannesburg this week for the Conference on a Landmine-Free Africa: the OAU and the Legacy of Anti-Personnel Mines.    The conference, which began on Monday 19 May and continued until Wednesday afternoon, 21 May, addressed three aspects of the landmines problem in Africa: government policy, especially with regard to an international prohibition of landmines; mine clearance; and victim assistance. Presentations in plenary and working groups were given by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and included a report on the conclusions of the ICRC-sponsored regional seminar on mines held last month in Harare.

As a symbolic first step towards a landmine-free Africa, South Africa's Defence Minister Joe Modise detonated 4,700 anti-personnel landmines in a controlled blast at the Alkantpan military base in the Northern Cape province on the final day of the conference. South Africa has announced it will destroy its existing stockpile of 186,000 anti-personnel landmines by the end of this year.