Swiss humanitarian demining success in Mozambique

Bern, Press release, 27.06.2014

Switzerland contributed significantly to demining the province of Maputo, Mozambique, declared "free of mines" on 21 March 2014. This success will allow the inhabitants of the decontaminated zones to return to work in their fields without fear. At the same time it was taking action in the field, Switzerland also took part in the Review Conference of the Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines in Maputo from 23 to 27 June 2014.

For over 30 years the Swiss cooperation programme has been involved in the areas of economic development, health and decentralisation in Mozambique. Mine clearance in Mozambique has allowed thousands of farmers to reclaim their fields and resume food production. Indeed, Mozambique has been among the countries most heavily impacted by anti-personnel mines following its struggle for independence and civil war between 1964 and 1992.
 
To support the government's efforts, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has invested over one million francs in aiding non-governmental demining organisations to achieve the complete decontamination of the province of Maputo. For example, demining staff from the organisation APOPO used trained rats to locate explosive devices before neutralising them with mine-clearing robots from the Swiss non-profit foundation Digger.
 
Thanks to demining efforts in the province of Maputo, some 1,307 pieces of unexploded ordnance and over 5,500 anti-personnel mines were destroyed between 2007 and 2014, returning over five million square metres of land to rural communities. Maputo has become the sixth province free of mines; residual zones in four provinces still remain to be demined until the end of the year.

Reducing the social, economic and environmental impact of mines and explosive remnants of war is at the heart of the Mine Action Strategy of the Swiss Confederation 2012–2015. In 2013, CHF 19.2 million was earmarked for implementation of the strategy. By a joint action of the Federal Departments of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and Defence (DDPS), the strategy is articulated at two levels: support for legal instruments designed to prohibit the use of mines and cluster munitions, and humanitarian demining to reduce human suffering and rehabilitate victims.

From 23 to 27 June 2014 Switzerland took an active part in the Third Review Conference of the Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines in Maputo. Switzerland was represented by Ambassador Georges Martin, Deputy State Secretary. During the Maputo Conference, Switzerland reaffirmed its commitment to global mobilisation for the prohibition and eradication of mines and to upholding victims' rights. Switzerland is convinced that a shared effort can make the vision of a world without anti-personnel mines a reality.

Switzerland's mine clearance efforts will continue in 2014 in the province of Manica (west), one of the last four provinces in Mozambique with mined residual zones. The project will directly benefit nearly 1.5 million people, helping to improve their security, an indispensable condition for sustainable socioeconomic development.


Further information:

The SDC in Mozambique
SDC: Remnants of past conflicts make reconstruction impossible
FDFA: Disarmament and non-proliferation: Mines
Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction
ICRC
GICHD
UNMAS
International Campaign to Ban Landmines


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