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Southern Africa: for an anti-personnel landmine free zone

05-03-1997 News Release 97/08

Nine Red Cross Societies from the countries of southern Africa met in Maputo in the week of 24 February, at the invitation of the ICRC, to devise a regional strategy in the context of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement's global campaign calling for an immediate ban on the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of anti-personnel mines.

In a declaration adopted by the meeting, 12 National Red Cross Societies urged all countries in southern Africa to participate actively in the work of the Ottawa Group of pro-ban States; to support the early conclusion of an international treaty prohibiting the production, stockpiling, transfer and use of anti-personnel mines; to work towards the establishment of a zone totally free of anti-personnel landmines in southern Africa; and to adopt and implement national legal prohibitions on anti-personnel landmines.

The ICRC hopes that this declaration will encourage similar initiatives throughout the continent and worldwide. Recent decisions by South Africa and Mozambique to ban the use of anti-personnel mines are important moves towards a regional mine-free zone, and the ICRC urges other States to take similar action. The creation of such a zone in southern Africa will, however, also require active support from the international community in clearing mines already laid and in destroying remaining stockpiles of anti-personnel mines.

The ICRC and the National Red Cross Societies were in Maputo to participate in the Fourth International NGO Landmine Conference, held from 25 to 28 February. The Conference brought toge ther more than 450 representatives of local and international NGOs, regional and donor governments, and media representatives from over 60 - mostly African - countries. The event focused on both the global landmine issue and the regional problem in southern Africa and was part of the " Agenda for Action " of the Ottawa Group of 50 States, which are committed to working together towards a ban on anti-personnel mines.