For thousands of people in Zimbabwe, a common sight is a sign that reads ‘beware of the landmines’ which are posted close to their homes. These landmines are a leftover from the Liberation War which took place in the 1970’s and saw thousands of kilometres of landmines laid along the border with Mozambique and Zambia. Today, mine clearance equipment plays a key part in resolving this problem.
Minefields and life
Zimbabwe’s border areas have some of the densest minefields in the world. Unfenced, they are close to homes and schools and were often laid under farmland, meaning whole communities can risk their lives by doing something as simple as growing crops. There are improvised paths everywhere but without the right technology, they never truly know if these paths are safe or if a wrong step could lead to serious injury or death.
The landmines were planted during the war in the 1970’s to prevent liberation war fighters from crossing between Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Few signs were put up and many that remain are now so eroded that no-one knows what they are really for. The result is that walking in the area is a risk, both for humans and the livestock that need to cross the minefields to reach water sources during the dry season.
Mine clearance equipment
The use of mine clearance equipment in this region is slowly making a real difference to life. HALOTrust has been operating in the area since 2013 and has so far unearthed some 40,000 landmines using specialist mine clearance equipment.
Without this kind of equipment, demining would be done more slowly. Using the equipment will mean that within just a few years, large parts of the border area will be clear of landmines and people can live without the constant fear of a wrong step costing them their lives.
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