Mozambique is to present to the November meeting of the parties to the Ottawa Convention against anti-personnel land mines, a request to extend its deadline to be declared a country free of these deadly devices.
Under the terms of the convention, Mozambique should complete mine clearing by 2009, but the government admits the deadline cannot be met because there are still many areas in the country suspected of being mined.
The decision to request a time extension, until 2014, was taken during Tuesday’s cabinet meeting.
Government spokesperson, Deputy Education Minister Luis Covane, told reporters ” Mozambique will not meet the 2009 deadline and that is why we will ask, in November, for an extension of the deadline until 2014.
“This is because not all mined areas are known, there is a lack of mapping and we are struggling with a shortage of resources for mine clearance.”
Between 2002 and 2007, Mozambique invested 484 million meticais (US$19.4 million) in mine clearance activities in four provinces north of the Zambezi -Cabo Delgado, Niassa, Nampula and Zambezia. These provinces have been declared free of land mines.
The Cabinet meeting also passed a resolution that approved the National Action Plan Against Land Mines 2008-2012, that will concentrate on the remaining provinces, particularly Sofala in the centre of the country and Inhambane in the south, believed to be the areas most seriously affected.
The action plan is budgeted at 782 million meticais, which was yet to be raised from foreign donors.
The idea behind the plan is to speed up mine clearance and complete the work as soon as possible, so that the entire country may be declared free of land mines.
Covane recalled that 427 accidents with land mines were reported across the coun try between 1996 and 2007, killing 275 people and injuring 444.