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Cameroon : clearing Africa of landmines

09-05-1995 News Release 18

Every month some 800 people throughout the world continue to fall victim to anti-personnel mines, a veritable scourge of our times: most of them are civilians living in Africa, above all women and children. 

From 25 to 27 April, a seminar was held under the auspices of the ICRC and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in Yaoundé to draw attention to this shocking fact. During the seminar, which brought together delegations from 25 mainly French-speaking African countries, participants were given information on all the medical, human and socio-economic consequences of the use of anti-personnel mines. The ICRC welcomed the intention stated by the OAU to urge all its member States to adopt a united stand in favour of a total ban on the use of landmines when they attend the Review Conference of the 1980 United Nations Weapons Convention to be held in Vienna next September.

Participants at the seminar heard evidence given by representatives from Chad, the French-speaking African country most affected by the problem of landmines. Colonel Ndormadjingar Dilla was himself maimed during a mine-clearance operation in the north of the country that left seven soldiers dead and 14 others severely injured. Only 300 km of road, in a total area of 115,000 sq km, were made safe as a result of that operation.

Among the facts and figures illustrating the magnitude of the problem, participants were told that some 100 State-owned and private companies in 48 countries are today manufacturing 340 types of anti-personnel mines, many of which are undetectable and virtually impossible to neutralize safely. The decision announced by Belgium and Italy to no longer authorize the productio n, stockpiling, sale or use of anti-personnel mines was warmly welcomed by all the participants.