Mugabe appeals for international assistance to clear landmines in Zimbabwe

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Harare –  President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe on Tuesday appealed to the international community to help clear anti-personnel landmines infesting parts of the country ahead of the 2025 deadline.

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The deadline was set by the Ottawa Convention on the prohibition of production, transfer, stockpiling and use of antipersonnel landmines.

The mines were planted by the colonial Rhodesian regime during the country’s protracted war of independence.

Addressing thousands of people and military personnel at the commemoration of Defence Forces day, Mugabe said two more organisations had been roped in to help the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.

“The two organisations are expected to start operating before the end of 2017 and it is our fervent hope that their coming on board will enhance our chances of meeting the world deadline.

“Those who say that we should have completed removing the landmines should assist us and not only say that we should comply while they are not giving us any assistance,” he said.

NAN reports that a UK-based organisation, Halo Trust, said Zimbabwe has approximately 5,500 unexploded landmines

per km, making it one of the densest minefields in the world.

Halo Trust says the dangerous explosives were left planted more than 33 years ago during the country’s war for

independence.

Landmines on Zimbabwe’s northeast border with Mozambique reportedly cover an area of 335km.

“Zimbabwe has one of the densest minefields in the world, with about 5,500 landmines per kilometre,” said Halo

Trust’s Tom Dibb.

The presence of landmines has always been a headache for the southern African nations as thousands of people

have been killed or injured by the explosives, which have also hampered agricultural activities.

In 2016, parliament was told that the country was losing millions in potential revenue from tourism, timber and

tea plantations as more than 68 square km of prime land was papered with landmines planted during the liberation war in the Eastern Highlands.(NAN)


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