Columbus Mabika and Yeukai Tazira
THE Zimbabwe Mine Action Centre (ZIMAC) yesterday welcomed the United Kingdom’s 2 million support for de-mining, describing it as a shot in the arm in the fight against the deadly remnants of war.
On Sunday, the UK Department for International Development announced support for de-mining charity, the HALO Trust, one of the non-governmental organisations complimenting the Zimbabwe National Army in landmine clearance.
ZIMAC director Colonel Bhika Mkululi Ncube yesterday said the donation was expected to go a long way in addressing challenges bedevilling the country in the fight against landmines.
“We are really thankful to the UK for this kind gesture towards our quest to rid the nation of landmines,” he said.
“Thousands of people will be safe from the threat of landmines in Zimbabwe, thanks to fresh UK support for de-mining charity.”
Announcing the donation, UK International Development Secretary Mr Alok Sharma said his country was deeply committed to clearing landmines in Zimbabwe.
“Landmines are indiscriminate weapons of war that maim and kill innocent men, women and children,” he said.
“Their devastation lasts long after conflict has ended. I am proud to announce that through UK Aid Match, we will double generous donations from the British public to help rid Zimbabwe of these deadly explosives.”
Mr Sharma said the donations from the British public and the Breaking Boundaries appeal, the HALO Trust, hope to clear 105 600 square metres of land in Zimbabwe over 12 months, helping more than 3 000 people get access to safe land which is vital for producing food and creating jobs.
He said since 2018, UK-backed Mine Action has cleared 3,6 million square metres of contaminated or thought to be contaminated land in Zimbabwe.
Previously, the UK, in partnership with de-mining charities, has helped clear 15 million square metres of landmines in Angola to make it safe again and educated more than 35 000 people about the dangers of mines.
Zimbabwe is still one of the worst landmine infested countries in the world, with more than 75 000 people living near landmines. Everyday, people cross dangerous land infested with the landmines to reach schools, clinics and homes.
Rhodesian forces, at the height of the liberation struggle, laid the minefields along the northern and eastern borders of the country with the aim of preventing the infiltration of freedom fighters into the country from Mozambique and Zambia.