History of Minelaying
The civil war between FRELIMO government forces and RENAMO opposition forces resulted in mines being laid by both sides.
The government used anti-personnel mines to defend provincial and district towns, airstrips, key bridges, power lines, railways and military posts. The opposition laid anti-vehicle mines to close roads connecting towns and markets. Extensive defensive minefields were laid around the Cahora Bassa Dam by Portuguese forces and along the Mozambique–Zimbabwe border by Rhodesian forces.
In 2007 HALO concluded 14 years of mineclearance in the northern half of Mozambique, having cleared over 500 minefields and over 100,000 mines. Before leaving northern Mozambique, HALO conducted a mine impact free district survey over a two year period across 6,395 communities with over 400,000 people interviewed to ensure that all remaining known mined areas had been dealt with.
In 2007, HALO was asked to conduct a Baseline Assessment to quantify the remaining mines problem in the central and southern half of Mozambique. This was completed in October 2007 and the findings showed 487 confirmed minefields remained, with the most heavily mined being in the area of the Cahora Bassa Dam and on the border with Zimbabwe.
In 2009 HALO conducted a detailed survey of the border minefields to determine which areas lay solely within Mozambique and which straddled the border with Zimbabwe. Further survey work took the total known minefields in Mozambique to over 520.
Since the start of clearance in the central and southern half of Mozambique in late 2007, HALO has found and destroyed over 70,000 landmines, bringing HALO’s total nationally to well over 170,000.
Landmines have hampered development, caused accidents and death, and prevented land being used for agriculture, grazing, construction and safe access. Landmines have also blocked access to critical national infrastructure and cross-border movement.
Fortunately, Mozambique is extremely close to completing the remaining known mined areas and the requirement for large scale demining is effectively coming to an end.
HALO has used a combination of manual and mechanical demining assets for clearance.
Our priority has been those minefields with the highest humanitarian priority which have often contained high numbers of mines. These have been some of the most technically challenging minefields, located in some of the most remote areas of the country. HALO’s model, which has relied on working at scale, has been extremely successful. There is much to celebrate in these achievements, particularly that one of the most affected countries in the world will no longer have a known mines problem.
Requirement for Continued Clearance
HALO has been working towards the goal of completing clearance of all remaining minefields in Mozambique.
The end is within sight. On completion, Mozambique will require a far smaller, mobile capacity to address any residual mines that are not yet known but that may be discovered over the course of time. Beyond the minefields, HALO will offer assistance where required in dealing with remaining known ammunition contamination.