A land mine nightmare
There are an estimated 37 million land mines buried across Africa and Angola contains approximately 10 million of them.
These mines are a legacy of over four decades of fighting during a 14-year war of independence against its former colonial ruler of Portugal and another 30 years of civil war – see History & Politics.
Progress to remove the millions of land mines in Angola has been slow. Mine removal is a lengthy and expensive procedure. It can take experts an entire day to clear 20-50 square metres of land (when mines can be spread at a rate of 1,000 per minute).
It could take another four decades before all Angola’s land mines are removed. Meanwhile, these horrific devices will continue to take their toll. In 2010, 80 people were killed by land mines.
Land mines pose a huge danger to the population, particularly to the young. Angola already has 70,000 amputees, 8,000 of whom are children.
Naturally curious, children are much more likely to pick up devices if they find them. And when the mines explode, their small bodies are more easily injured. Those children who do survive a mine explosion are often left permanently disabled.
International charities are active in Angola to help clear mines. However, due to a lack of funding, many have recently had to scale back their operations.
The Angolan government has its own de-mining operation and hopes to clear “priority” areas by the end of 2012.