Landmines still plague Angola as aid dries up

By Cecile de Comarmond (AFP)

BENGUELA, Angola — Nine years after the end of Angola’s civil war, landmines are still scattered across the country and a full clean-up looks decades away as international aid has dried up.

“During the war, landmines protected the population here” by keeping the rebels at bay, said Yacinta Alfredo, teacher in a village close to the Biobio hydro-electric dam, 30 kilometres (18 miles) from the port town of Lobito, in one of the most heavily mined parts of the country.

“But later they became a danger. My cousin died, just there, not far,” added the single mother, who fears for the safety of her seven children.

Biopio dam provides power to the nearby cities of Lobito and Benguela, and was a strategic point during the 27-year war that devastated Angola.

“A 14-kilometre area was mined in 1994 by the Angolan army to protect the dam from attack by UNITA,” the Union for the Total Independence of Angola which battled the government, said Cesar Coimbra, an official with anti-mining group Halo Trust. More……

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