We have heard via the International Campaign to Ban Landmines of a landmine “accident”. On September 26th 2017, four members of the same family died from the explosion of an anti-personnel mine in the town of Murrotone. Two people died on the spot and others on the way to the hospital.
According to Mozambique Radio, these people found the mine in farmland and took it home. Under the false impression that it contained mercury that they could extract to sell, they started hammering it, and the mine exploded.
This “accident” borne of ignorance is a clear sign of the need to continue the civic Mine Risk Education campaign.
Once stated by the United Nations to be one of the most heavily-mined countries in the world, it is just over 2 years since Mozambique was declared landmine-free after the removal of the last of its 171,000 known landmines. The antipersonnel mines were first planted in the 1960s during a war of independence from Portugal, then in the ensuing civil war, and continued to inflict thousands of casualties long after peace was declared in 1992. The Halo Trust led demining efforts for over 22 years, clearing in less than 30 years what many people had thought would take 100 years. But as this incident demonstrates, when faced with legacy weapons there is no place for complacency.
Mozambique is a signatory to the Landmine Ban Treaty.
By Helen Stanger, Public Officer