July 7, 2005

Progress in land mine fight / German aid for Mozambique

The number of villages affected by land mines was halved last year, but some 800.000 people still live in areas deemed dangerous, mainly in the north of the country near the Tanzanian border. According to Foreign Minister Alcinda Abreu, anti-personnel mines still remained an obstacle to free travel and economic development in large swathes of the countryside. At the end of 2003, suspected mine fields affected 583 villages. This was reduced by the end of 2004 to 204 villages with a population of 806.000. More than 18.000 land mines were removed and destroyed in 2004 through the work of the charity Halo Trust. Many of the mines removed last year were in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, near the Tanzanian border. They were mostly planted by the Portuguese during the 1962-1975 war for Mozambican independence. Other mines were planted during the country's 19 year-old civil war that followed independence. Mozambique wants to destroy all mines by 2009 - the deadline set by the Ottawa Treaty outlawing anti-personnel mines, to which Mozambique is a signatory. Over the past 10 years, about US$150 million has been spent on de-mining. For 2005, the amount pledged for de-mining is US$10.6 million - not enough to meet the targets set out in the annual plan.
In the meantime, the German and Mozambican governments have signed an agreement under which Germany is to grant 20.5 million euros to assist Mozambique in its poverty reduction efforts. According the German embassy, the activities covered under the agreement include support for basic education and professional training, rural development, the strengthening of the micro-finance system, and the fight against HIV/AIDS. The German cooperation programme in Mozambique, the release said, is centred on three thematic areas, namely rural development, basic and vocational education, and the reform and development of the market economy. The German aid programme is concentrated on the central provinces of Manica and Sofala, and the southern province of Inhambane. The embassy puts total German aid to Mozambique in 2004 at between 31 and 32 million euros. (South Scan, London / Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, Maputo)

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