ETHIOPIA: Thousands exposed to danger from landmines

Sunday, April 22, 2007
Ethiopia's Afar and Tigray regional states are so heavily mined that hundreds of thousands of people living there are exposed to danger from the ordnances, official statistics show.

Most of the landmines were planted during the recent Ethiopia-Eritrea boundary war, which was mainly fought in the two states because they share borders with Eritrea. Data compiled by the national Landmine Action Office shows that 375,899 and 66,478 people in Tigray and Afar regional states, respectively, are exposed to the danger of landmines.

According to a local NGO, Rehabilitation and Development Organization (RaDO), at least 39 new mine and UXO (unexploded ordnance) accidents were recorded in the two regions between January 2005 and May 2006. Ten people were killed and 16 injured.

On Wednesday, the European Commission (EC) announced an €8 million donation to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for the removal of landmines in the two regions.

Signing the agreement for the donation with Sam Barnes, the UNDP country director, the EC head of delegation in Ethiopia, Timothy Clarke, said: "In the 10 years since the signature of the Mine Ban Treaty the EU has been the top global donor with a total contribution of more than €1.4 billion."

The agreement was signed during the opening ceremony of the European Union (EU) and African Union (AU) security dialogue on the problems of landmine and small arms.

Barnes said the UN was currently providing mine action assistance to 17 African Union member states including Ethiopia and Eritrea.

More than 11 of land has been de-mined in Ethiopia, destroying 184 antipersonnel mines, 98 anti-vehicle mines, and 6,607 items of unexploded ordnance since 2005, according to the 2006 Global Landmine Report.
Source: IRIN
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