landmines.jpgThousands of villagers in the south eastern parts of the country are still at risk of being killed or maimed by landmines laid during the war of liberation, with the demining exercise having almost come to a standstill as the illegal economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the West and its allies have taken their toll.

 

In an interview with ZBC News at Gwaivhi Demining base in Gonarezhou National Park, Commander Engineers Corps, Colonel Chris Sibanda said the illegal sanctions imposed by the West and its allies have derailed Zimbabwe’s demining exercise.

Zimbabwe has over the past decade failed to access financial and technical support from the international community as a result of the illegal sanctions. 

The importation of modern demining equipment has also become impossible due to the illegal sanctions.

The demining exercise which was started by the government in 1984 was supposed to be complete by January 2009 in line with the Ottawa Anti Personnel Mine Ban Convention which Zimbabwe ratified on 18 June 1998.

The convention requires member States to destroy all their minefields, stop the manufacture, use and transfer of Anti Personnel mines.

Zimbabwe made significant strides in effecting the convention by destroying over four thousand of its stock piles of Anti personnel mines by the year 2000.

However, the country has only managed to clear two out of the six  surveyed minefields which were laid by the Rhodesian forces at its borders as a way of preventing guerilla infiltration at the peak of the liberation struggle between 1976 and 1979.

 

Meanwhile, Regional and International defence attaches in Zimbabwe have urged the international community to support the country’s demining exercise.

The attaches were speaking during their tour of Gwaivhi Crooks Corner Minefields in Gonarezhou National Park where the Zimbabwe National Army Engineers Corps is engaged in a demining exercise.

They said the international community should support Zimbabwe financially and technically in order to speed up its demining programme.

The defense attaches agreed that the problem of landmines in Zimbabwe is a humanitarian issue with the potential to affect the livelihood of the country’s neighbors hence collective efforts are needed to address the problem.