from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE, (CAJ News) – MORE than 1 600 Zimbabweans have lost their lives because of landmines that remain fatal despite the end of the liberation war in the late 1970s.
Despite over 38 years after independence from British colonial rule, more than 75 000 people in the Southern African country still live in areas rife with landmines.
Stakeholders revealed the figures at the launch of an ambitious project to clear 105 600 square metres of land in Zimbabwe over 12 months.
The exercise is expected to help more than 3 000 people get access to safe land, which is vital for producing food and creating jobs.
The HALO Trust is clearing the landmines in Zimbabwe, following a similar exercise it held in Angola. Former colonial master, Britain, is backing the exercise.
Alok Sharma, the English International Development Secretary, lamented that landmines were still maiming and killing civilians after the liberation war ended in 1979.
The envoy said the United Kingdom (UK) was committed to clearing landmines in its former colony Zimbabwe and across the world.
“No one has to live in fear of one wrong step,” Sharma said.
The landmines in Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia, are a stark reminder of the brutal 15-year war between liberation fighters and forces of the colonial government of Ian Smith, now late.
– CAJ News