Angola: Preventing mine incidents
04-06-2003 News Release 03/66
With the support of the ICRC, the Angola Red Cross has launched an awareness-raising programme aimed at reducing casualties caused by mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) in two of Angola's most affected provinces, Bié and Benguela.
Angolan Red Cross volunteers participating at a workshop on mines and UXO awareness
The second of two workshops organized under the programme was held in Bié province last week and 40 Red Cross volunteers who took part have now returned to their communities, where they will help the local population find solutions to the problems posed by mines/UXO. The workshop was also attended by ICRC staff based in Namibia and by representatives of the Mine Action Centre in Zambia, who will start up awareness-raising activities for Angolan refugees in those two countries.
Around 3,000 people have been killed or injured by mines/UXO in Angola since 1998. A ceasefire agreement was signed one year ago, ending more than a quarter century of armed conflict. Despite ongoing clearance efforts, these dangerous devices will nevertheless continue to cause problems for years to come. Some 440,000 Angolan refugees living in neighbouring Zambia, Namibia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and large numbers of internally displaced people, are now returning home, many to areas that have not yet been cleared of mines/UXO.
A joint ICRC/Angola Red Cross survey conducted in affected communities at the beginning of the year showed that, although the population has some knowledge of how to red uce mine/UXO risks, a lot of work remains to be done. It also made clear that the devices, in addition to claiming lives or limbs, prevent people from going about essential daily activities, such as farming, gathering wood and carrying water.
Since the first workshop held in March, mine-awareness volunteers have visited some 50 affected communities in Benguela province to collect information from the villagers about the location of mines/UXO. Subsequently, the Angola Red Cross and the demining organization operating in the area were able to remove the devices.
Olivier Moeckli, ICRC Luanda, tel. ++2442 265 117 or mobile ++244 9121 7093