HeroRATs and Hero Trainers work to clear landmines
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."