Vila Pisa Bem: Landmine Love Story

Landmines in Mozambique

Many years after the end of war in Mozambique, there remains a significant number of landmines and unexploded ordnance within the country, causing death and serious injury, but the resulting insecurity affects development and survivors live with trauma for many years. Given that the affected areas are no longer in urban centers but rather in the rural remote areas, there is a need to particularly make people aware of the possibility of landmines, as they may be very far from hospitals and places of care. Although providing information is the key, there is also a need to encourage discussions, so that families and communities will discuss the issue. There are some conflicting views about the ongoing extent of the problem in the country as well as the need for mine risk education. However, it has been widely recognized that some continued awareness is needed, and although it may be ideal for the de-miners in the field to conduct this sensitisation, this rarely happens.

Key Issues

Loss of land
Access to land for agriculture, grazing, and trading between communities is severely restricted when mines are planted. This prevents subsistence farmers and local economies from flourishing, thereby putting a damper on national economic growth.

Deminers and HIV

Deminers are generally locals or nationals of the country there demining. They come from diverse backgrounds, but are likely to be educated. However, there is anecdotal evidence of a commercial sex trade within communities hosting deminers, and of deminers engaging in commercial sex, which puts both the communities and the deminers at increased risk of STI and HIV transmission.

Mines and children
Mines are attractive to children because they may be shiny or colourful, and can be mistaken for another harmless piece of metal. Children use scrap metal to make toys, for example, cars, carts and prams. In regions where mines have been widely disseminated they become a familiar sight and a casual attitude to mines is often encouraged by the irresponsible behaviour of soldiers and other adults, who may disarm them.

Mines and floods

The inevitaMacuable soil erosion that comes with heavy rains and floods can cause mines to become unearthed or unstable, and even to move. Areas that once posed no risk can become dangerous. Mines may also be pushed further into the ground, making them more difficult for mining operations to detect and remove.

Informal deminers

In some cases, individual community members take it upon themselves to become informal, untrained deminers. They are generally respected by the community for their efforts, and the more mines and UXO they remove, the more respect they receive. This poses a problem for several reasons.

Land mine avoidance

The continued existence of land mines around rural communities means that individuals are always at risk, even if the mine fields are marked or known. Avoiding land mine accidents and communicating what to do in emergency situations is extremely important, especially given that most rural communities are located far from medical facilities, and not all mine fields are marked.

Mine Ban Treaty

Mine Ban Treaty, under which Mozambique must destroy all antipersonnel mines in mined areas under its jurisdiction or control as soon as possible, but originally no later than 1 March 2009, and now extended to 2014. The government has set up the National Demining Institute (IND) to deal with demining operations, land mine awareness, and land mine policy, but it is still far from reaching its Treaty commitment

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