About the Author: John Zak is a Grants Program Coordinator at the U.S. Embassy in Maputo, Mozambique.
Mozambique’s landmine problem was once one of the most severe in the world, with a legacy of landmines and explosive remnants of war from decades of conflict. Since 1993, the United States has provided more than $47 million of assistance in Mozambique to safely clear areas of landmines and unexploded ordnance, helping safeguard communities and demonstrating America’s commitment to peace and stability in Mozambique.
Our latest $2 million grant will fund survey and clearance teams from The HALO Trust, a United Kingdom-based nongovernmental organization (NGO) and leading U.S. humanitarian demining partner. These HALO teams ─ staffed largely by local Mozambican demining technicians ─ will survey all villages across six districts of Maputo Province as well as conduct re-survey and clearance of priority minefields in Maputo, Manica and Tete.
In all, tens of thousands of landmines were laid in Mozambique during its 1964-1975 fight for independence and throughout the civil war that followed. All factions used mines to defend provincial and district towns, roads, airstrips, key bridges, power supply infrastructure and military posts. Although the civil war ended in the early 1990s, landmines and unexploded ordnance continue to claim lives and hinder development.
Newly cleared lands mean new opportunities to continue rebuilding Mozambique through economic development and building new communities, farms, and businesses. But landmines are more than a physical threat ─ they are also a powerful symbol of the violence and instability of Mozambique’s past. When we remove landmines, we also help Mozambique remove the vestiges of the past and move toward a new era of peace and stability.
After more than 17 years of foreign assistance funding demining activities, the number of known and suspect hazardous areas has been significantly reduced with help from the U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action program, a joint effort by the Department of State, Department of Defense, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services who work together to reduce risks in nearly 50 post conflict countries around the world.
From Angola, to Afghanistan, to Sri Lanka, U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action has delivered more than $1.3 billion in aid, making the United States the world’s leading contributor to post-conflict efforts to help countries remove these explosive remnants of war. Projects funded under the U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action program include:
• Mine clearance projects by 63 partner organizations such as The HALO Trust;
• Mine-risk education to help area residents avoid injury by identifying potential hazards;
• Research and development into new demining technologies;
• Training local demining technicians in affected countries; and
• Supporting rehabilitation programs serving those injured by landmines and unexploded munitions.
U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action has contributed to significant reductions in casualties from mines and explosive remnants of war, and is one of many ways the United States is demonstrating its commitment to peace and stability in Mozambique and the wider region.
We look forward to a time when all Mozambicans are free to walk on their land without the fear of explosives. The United States supports the aspirations of Mozambicans who wish to make their hopes for a more peaceful, more stable, and more democratic Mozambique a reality.