The Angolan Ministry of Assistance and Social Reintegration says 1 480 anti-personnel mines, 113 anti-tank mines, 77 559 pieces of unexploded ordnance, 30 600 munitions and 1 030 kilogrammes of assorted explosives were de-activated and destroyed in 2013.
Addressing local media on the progress of de-mining activities carried out by his ministry in the course of 2013, Assistance and Social Reintegration minister Joao Baptista Kussumua said the de-mining operations also led to an area of 148 000 square metres being cleared and the clearance of 1 752 kilometres of roads.
Kussumua added that outreach programmes by the ministry had reached 63 127 people who were sensitised on the dangers posed by landmines and other unexploded ordnance. Angola has intensified de-mining operations to clear the explosive remnants of the civil war which was fought between 1975 and 2002.
According to information from the National Demining Institute (INAD), 784 anti-personnel mines, 4 anti-tank mines, 297 pieces of un-exploded ordnance and 4 280 munitions and ammunition of various calibres were destroyed in the Lunda Sul province using manual and mechanized methods.
Salvador Colo, provincial head of the Multi-Sectoral Technical Commission for Demining and Humanitarian Assistance, said the organisation in now focused on clearing out landmines in the Cacolo, Muconda, Dala and Saurimo municipalities with the aim of freeing up more land for arable farming and resettlement to cater for the expansion of urban areas. At least 3.23 million square metres of land were cleared of landmines in the province in 2013.
The INAD said it also cleared landmines from 3.1 million square metres of land in the central Huambo province where it deactivated and destroyed 2 anti-tank mines, 2 anti-personnel landmines, 139 pieces of unexploded ordnance and 392 pieces of ammunition of various calibres in 2013. The clearance works were done in collaboration with a specialised bomb disposal brigade of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA).
In the Bie province, British de-mining NGO Halo Trust reported the deactivation and destruction of 113 anti-personnel mines, 16 anti-tank landmines, 739 pieces of un-exploded ordnance and 3 741 munitions and ammunition of various calibres in the course of 2013. The operations covered the districts of Kuito, Kunhinga, Kamacupa and Kuemba.
The INAD also reported the clearance of 5.3 million square metres of arable land following the removal and destruction of 11 anti-personnel mines, 7 anti – tank mines, 632 pieces of un-exploded ordnance and 51.095 assorted munitions and ammunition in the Cunene province.
In the same province, 66 firearms, 693 cartridges and 46 magazines of ammunition were handed over to the police under a voluntary disarmament programme which seeks to disarm, stabilise and secure the post-war communities.
Angola is still struggling to clear landmines and other remnants of war which are a legacy of the 1975 to 2002 civil war which pitted the government against rebels from the Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) which was led by the late Jonas Savimbi.
Despite the end of the war following the killing of Savimbi by the army early in 2002, the country remains among one of the most heavily mined countries in the world.
The de-mining programme is making slow progress and has of late been hamstrung by lack of funding, leading to a scaling back of the programme in various parts of the country.
Apart from Angola, Zimbabwe and Mozambique also face serious human security problems posed by landmines planted during the wars which led to the political liberation of those countries.