Angola is one of the most mine-affected regions in the world with about one fifth of the population affected by landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW), that’s over 4 million people! “We’re committed to help those 4 million people getting their land and lives back and would like to thank you for your kind support”, says APOPO Program Manager for Mine Action in Angola, Frank Gregorio. Early 2014 APOPO received an operational permit for a humanitarian landmine clearance project in Angola. Together with its local partner Norwegian’s People Aid (NPA), APOPO carried out operations in Malange province with support of the Mine Detection Rats(MDR), clearing an area of more than 190,000m2 and helping thousands of people back onto their land.
Now preparations have started to deploy the HeroRATs in Zaire Province on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Our teams will be clearing two sites, Malele 2 and Malele 3, in Mbuela commune about 100 kilometres North from province capital Mbanza Congo. The area was a strategic zone during wartime, with a position of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) and offices of the border police and immigration. Mines were laid as a protective tactic in an area of about 240,000 m2, along the border and a road leading to the border.
The now contaminated land is much needed by the local population for agricultural and commercial activities. Once cleared, part of the area will be used to develop a market that will stimulate cross-border trade with neighboring Congo, creating development opportunities and positive change in the lives and livelihoods of the local community.
If you want to know more about our work, progress and future plans in Angola, please check our website, Facebook and twitter.
The HeroRAT team
With the help of the HeroRATs, our demining teams are now supporting the clearance of landmines in a residential area in Ngola Luije in the northern part of Angola. The site was a military camp during the war but when the soldiers left, landmines and other explosive remnants of war remained and are now acting as a barrier to development as well as a dangerous hazard to local communities.
The site is located near a primary school, so every day hundreds of children, teachers and parents from the local community walk right past the minefield. "Children want to explore new places and when they play they sometimes forget about possible dangers”, says Frank Gregorio, APOPO's mine action program manager for Angola. “Our rats are therefore doing a very important job by clearing all these weapons in the backyards of the school. Thanks to them, these children can play safely and without fear again”
Clearing the mines will also allow the community to use the much needed land for agricultural and developmental purposes. Most people living in the area are small scale farmers, depending on arable land for their livelihoods.
From APOPO and all the school children, teachers and parents, thank you for helping us make Ngola Luije save to live, play and farm.
Dear APOPO supporter,
APOPO and the HeroRATs want to thank you for your support the past year and wish you all the best in 2015!
Thanks to you and others like you, we can look back on a very successful year: we were able to send rat-reinforcements to our team in Angola, we’ve expanded the reach of our Mine Action program into Cambodia with the launch of projects in some of the most mine-affected areas and our staff and the HeroRATs in Mozambique are proud to have been part of the clearance of two provinces that are now declared mine free. Overall, we have found over 21,000 landmines and bombs and cleared/released over 8.2 million square meters of contaminated land, allowing local communities to get back to using their land and carry on their lives without fear.
Our tuberculosis detection rats have sniffed out more than 50,000 sputum samples, collected from clinics in Tanzania and Mozambique, thereby helping us to diagnose over 1800 patients who were missed by conventional methods. We expanded our collaboration from 8 to a total of 15 health centers in Maputo, allowing us to collect almost 100% of all the samples produced in the city.
Thanks to your generosity and the help of the GlobalGiving community, we were able to train and deploy more HeroRATs, helping us to free thousands of people from the threat of landmines and tuberculosis. We would like to take this moment to thank you for your kind support and we look forward to sharing more of our successes in 2015!
The APOPO team
Mozambique is on track to be free of landmines by the end of this year. Abu is one of APOPO’s deminers who’s been working hard towards this achievement. Every day he makes sure his family and community can live, work and play in their fields without fear.
“Everyone in the community knows about the mines that put our lives in danger. I decided to do something about it so I joined APOPO”, says Abu.
“I carry out tasks such as minefield preparation and landmine detection. Once our HeroRATs have found the mines, I carefully expose them and my colleagues then safely destroy them. The rats are truly amazing. They are so fast! They can search 200 square meters an hour. This could take me eight days.
People say I risk my life to find the landmines. But we follow strict safety rules and we take regular breaks from the heat and intense concentration. There are also fully trained medical staff on hand with top quality equipment.
My job supports my family and I help to pay school fees for my nieces and nephews. I also started up my wife in our business as one day all the mines will be gone. And my children can now play and collect firewood without fear of landmines. Thanks to apopo, my family is now safe”.
The Maputo 3rd Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty concluded in late June in positive fashion with the seventy-nine participating state parties making strong declarations of renewed commitment to the Treaty.
The convention was convened to discuss the progress made toward realizing Treaty commitments in countries suffering from landmine and ERW contamination. Specifically, individual deadline requirements and extension requests were considered as states parties work to clear their territories of landmines and destroy stockpiles in accordance with set deadlines.
Although much progress has been made there is much left to do in spite of commitments shown. The review conference offered a high-level space for inclusion of landmine survivors and considered the plight of landmine victims, who long after landmine clearance has taken place still find themselves unable to work or without proper support. Apopo’s honorary president HRH Princess Astrid of Belgium addressing the conference said "...victims should be integrated into global and national policy related to disability, health, education,employment, development and poverty reduction."
The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) also issued a completion challenge to all states parties, asking them to commit to complete all major Treaty obligations within the next decade. "The Maputo Action Plan adopted today provides a roadmap for what needs to happen during the next five years to achieve a world without landmines," said ICBL-CMC Executive Director, Sylvie Brigot-Vilain.
The ICBL reacted with guarded optimism to the United States' long awaited announcement that it intends to take steps to join the Treaty. Although the ICBL pointed out that no target date has been set by the US, they acknowledged that the announcement shows that the US has changed its stance on the Treaty for the better.
Apopo was well represented at the Conference, including at the welcome reception on Sunday evening where eight apopo deminers were in attendance. Apopo was honored by the invitation from the Director of Mozambique’s National Institute for Demining (IND), Mr. Alberto Augusto, because deminers are the backbone of apopo operations and must not become forgotten heroes.
Apopo has much to show for its efforts in Mozambique and beyond since 2007, having released over 11 million square meters of land back to local populations with over 900,000 people having been freed from the threat of landmines.
Country Director for apopo Mozambique Mine Action program Tess Tewelde said "the occasion of the Convention was a welcomed opportunity for Mozambique to present its remarkable progress in mitigating its landmine problem. For its part apopo was proud to showcase our work in strong partnership with the IND, national and international stakeholders. Apopo sincerely thanks its donors and partners who make this life-saving work possible."
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Tanzania, United Republic of
Public Fundraising Manager
Tanzania, United Republic of