After 13 years of work in northern Mozambique, HALO has closed its doors there.
In an area approximately the size of California, there are simply no more known minefields requiring clearance. The region will officially be declared ‘Mine Impact Free’ in early 2008. An estimated 170,000 mines were laid in Mozambique during its fight for independence (1964-1975) and throughout the civil war that followed. All factions used mines to defend provincial and district towns, roads, airstrips, key bridges, power supply infrastructure and military posts. Although the civil war ended in the early nineties, landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) continued to claim lives and hinder development there.
Since launching its northern Mozambique programme in 1994, 2,587 acres of land were demined and returned to local communities. Over 100,000 landmines and 22,000 items of UXO were destroyed in the process. HALO would not have been able to achieve these results without the generosity of its donors—particularly the British, American, Dutch, Irish, Japanese and Swiss governments—who jointly provided $30 million in support.
Deborah Netland, Programme Manager at the US Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) commented:
I’ve been privileged to observe firsthand the positive impact that HALO’s dedicated work has had on the day-to-day lives of people in the north. This is a great success story and the United States is proud to have been a part of it.
Now that the work is completed in the north, HALO has been asked to lend its assistance in south and central Mozambique, where progress has been slower. A survey to determine the extent of the remaining mines threat there was completed in October 2007, and work plans are now being developed to tackle these 487 minefields.