By Andile Tshuma
A European non-governmental organisation has removed more than 50 000 landmines in Zimbabwe. The Halo Trust, with support from the British government, clocked its 50 000th removal in Zimbabwean minefields recently.
The Halo Trust has been working in Zimbabwe since 2013.
Most landmines have been removed along the Zambezi River and on Zimbabwe’s borders with Zambia and Mozambique. More are expected to be unearthed at a faster rate with the aid of a new UK aid-funded technology.
The technology, which includes radar detectors, will help trace ammunition in about 12 000 square metres per day — according to the Halo Trust statement on its website.
The pioneering technology will help eliminate landmines across Africa, helping the world’s most vulnerable communities to access safe land.
“Remote controlled machines, such as the Mine Wolf, will also help clear cluster bombs more rapidly. Manufactured in Newcastle, the eight-tonne Mine Wolf is a remote-controlled mine-clearing machine used in high risk areas. It can clear up to 12 000 square metres a day,” read the statement.
“Our support will also help train all-female demining teams, often in areas where many of the men have died in conflict. Hundreds of women from impoverished communities are being empowered through skills training in landmine clearance, vehicle mechanics and paramedic first aid to protect their communities,” read the statement.
Zimbabweans living in the mine-infested areas have lost over 120 000 cattle since 1980 and it is reported that over 1 550 people have been killed by the explosives, with thousands being maimed.
Halo International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said a crippling legacy of fear, mutilation and devastation, which landmines leave, must be wiped out for good across communities.
She said UK expertise and innovation were helping to shield vulnerable communities and liberating land contaminated by landmines to allow disadvantaged people to grow crops, walk their children to school without fear and “ultimately give them back control over their lives”.
She added that locals would be trained to identify and remove landmines in their communities. As well as saving lives, she said the support will ensure vast areas of land can be returned to communities, improving lives and ensuring safe access to housing, education and medical facilities.
“Mine clearance is the very first step in creating stability, development and ultimately self-reliance for people whose lives continue to be blighted by conflicts long after they end,” said Ms Mordaunt.
The Halo Trust was founded 30 years ago to free the world from the scourge of landmines for good.
According to the Halo Trust, global deaths and injuries from landmines have hit a ten-year high. Today, one person every hour is killed by a landmine and almost half are children. Chronicle