Mauritania has become the latest country to succeed in clearing its territory of land mines, completing a task that’s been decades in the making.
The anti-personnel mines were left behind during the 1978-1979 conflict in Western Sahara. Their presence was identified in three regions of Mauritania covering about 68 square kilometers that needed to be cleared. They posed a lethal threat to civilians, and interfered with development and basic life activities like grazing, fishing, tourism and commerce.
“I am extremely honored to declare that after four decades since these weapons were laid and nearly two decades of clearance, Mauritania is free of all known mined zones,” said Mr. Alioune Ould Menane, coordinator of Mauritania’s mine clearance program.
The achievement makes Mauritania, which became a party to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention in 2000, the 31st country to do so. The global convention went into force in 1999, and has its goal the clearance of all such mines across the planet by 2025.
The Mauritanian Government covered about two-thirds of the cost, while the international community – including eight European nations, the United States and a number of United Nations entities – supported the rest.
Together, 164 parties have destroyed more than 51 million land mines and 158 states have fulfilled their stockpile destruction obligation. The Convention concludes its conference meeting in Geneva on Friday.
The Ottawa Convention is the prime humanitarian and disarmament treaty aimed at ending the suffering caused by landmines by prohibiting their use, ensuring their destruction and assisting the victims.