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Angola registered 22 deaths and 41 injured due to landmines last year

Angola recorded 22 deaths and 41 injured due to 30 accidents with unexploded ordnance last year, according to data from the Executive Commission for Demining.

: Lusa
Lusa  

The information was presented this Thursday by the deputy chief of the Army Engineering Directorate and head of the Operational Room of the Executive Commission for Demining, Brigadier António Jorge, during the coordination meeting of the Mine Action Sector of the National Intersectorial Commission for Demining and Humanitarian Assistance (CNIDAH).

In the Angolan demining process there are humanitarian operators, represented by the non-governmental organizations Norwegian People's Aid, The Hallo Trust, Mine Advisory Group and APOPO, public, integrated by the brigade of the Security House of the President of the Republic, Angolan Armed Forces, Border Guard Police and the National Institute of Demining (INAD), and 12 commercial ones, almost inoperant recently due to lack of request.

The report indicates that, in 2020, 14,164,890 square meters of area, 400,783 kilometers of roads and 211,400 kilometers of high-voltage electricity transmission line routes were demined, and 551 antipersonnel mines and 63 antitank mines were detected, removed and destroyed, as well as 10,886 unexploded explosive devices. A further 451,416 pieces of metal were collected.

Last year, 98,131 people were made aware of the risk of mines, most of them children, the main victims of accidents.

According to the report, accidents were registered in 12 of the country's 18 provinces, with Zaire leading the list, with six accidents.

For this year, the Executive Commission of Demining foresees the recruitment of demobilized soldiers of the military mine engineering specialty in its demining brigades.

These will carry out the verification and demining of roadways, railways and telecommunications projects, high-voltage power lines and water pipelines and areas for the construction of infrastructures for the operation of local authorities, as well as confirmed and suspected mine areas, within the framework of the Ottawa Convention.

According to Brigadier António Jorge, the main challenges include demining the high-voltage power line Huambo-Lubango, 60 kilometers of the road section Cacongola-Muxinda, in the province of Lunda Norte, the high-voltage line of the substation of Belém-Bailundo, demining areas for the construction of hydroelectric facilities of VUKA I, II, II, in Lunda Norte, and demining in the urban district of Sequele and locality of Membeca, province of Bengo.

In 2020, the commission received funding of 136 million kwanzas from the State, but currently needs 23 billion kwanzas to carry out the projects underway, both private and mainly from the Government.

António Jorge said that the support of international donors is becoming scarcer each year, and a self-financing strategy is being created through the collection of contributions from all existing projects and those under execution in the country.

According to the responsible, the commission has been charging between five and 160 kwanzas per square meter in its demining actions, an insignificant amount if compared with the price charged internationally, between one and two dollars, as established by the International Center for Humanitarian Demining in Geneva.

"What has helped us in carrying out these works has been the participation of certain contractors, who are financially able and have donated logistical means, fuel, and lubricants" since the 58 brigades were formed, he said.

The demining of the Okavango/Zambeze project, a tourist area in Cuando Cubango, has not yet started, advanced António Jorge, due to lack of logistical and technical support.

"We have our brigades ready to start the service, but for lack of logistical and technical support we are waiting for higher decisions to be taken, in the sense of, together with The Hallo Trust, being able to demining our part, which is the road network of the tourist zone and the theme parks, around 202 thousand hectares", he indicated.

In the past three years, the commission has left 43.7 million square meters free of mines, having detected, removed and destroyed 1707 anti-personnel mines, 233 anti-tank mines, 116,206 undetonated explosive devices of various types.

From 2018 to 2020, the Executive Demining Commission recorded in 15 provinces, with a greater incidence for Huambo and Bié, with 14 each, 92 accidents with undetonated explosives, which resulted in the death of 59 people and the injury of 164 others.

Vast areas of the country's territory remain contaminated by explosive devices resulting from three distinct phases of armed conflict from 1961 to 2002.