by MARCUS MUSHONGA
HARARE, (CAJ News) – THOUSANDS of landmines laid during the 1970s liberation war that freed Zimbabwe from colonialism have been detonated.
A milestone has been reached with the destruction of the 100 000th landmine by an international demining trust in Rushinga District, Mashonaland Central province in the northeast of the country.
The HALO Trust has cleared more than 5,5 million square metres of land in the region since it started the operation in 2013.
Sam Fricker, Programme Manager at HALO Zimbabwe, said the destruction of the 100 000th landmine was a milestone towards the goal of achieving a landmine free Zimbabwe by 2025.
The Rhodesian military of the Ian Smith regime laid dense belts of mines along the then Rhodesia’s borders with Mozambique and Zambia during the liberation war.
About 40 years on from independence, the unfenced minefields have killed or injured over 1 500 people and more than 100 000 cattle.
“The human cost is huge but the loss of cattle threatens livelihoods too,” Fricker said.
“These isolated communities, who are already suffering from drought and economic hardships have also had to bear this additional burden for decades.”
The HALO Trust employs over 420 local men and women as deminers in a region where steady employment is almost non-existent.
Zimbabwe is one of the most densely mined countries in the world.
Over 15 percent of all landmines destroyed last year were destroyed in the Southern African country.
Other parts of the Zimbabwe infected with landmines include the country’s second largest park, Gona reZhou, which borders neighbouring Mozambique and South Africa.
Donors, including the United Kingdom’s Department of International Development and the United States Department of State are assisting in this project.
– CAJ News