OAU, EU Commitment To Eradicate Landmines Lauded

-the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) to provide- financial and technical assistance for the removal of landmines in Africa is a good step forward in getting rid of the problem.
According to a report published after the Africa- Europe Cairo Summit in April, dubbed the Cairo Plan of Action, the two bodies have promised to provide both financial and technical assistance for the removal of existing landmines in Africa.
Nairobi doctor Paul Saoke, who is also a member of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, said Monday that the gesture showed the seriousness with which such ventures like removing landmines from the earth surface should be viewed.
Saoke said Kenya was among those countries with mines mainly planted in its northern area by the members of Ethiopia's Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), a rebel group operating in southern Ethiopia.
He said that civil wars in neighbouring Ethiopia, Sudan, and Somalia affected Kenya in such a way that landmines and other weapons found their way into the country.
He said that 10 people have died and scores injured in northern Kenya from landmines.
Saoke, who is also a member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Kenya chapter, said that the world should be more committed than ever before in the fight against landmines.
He pointed out that landmines posed dangers to the members of the public and polluted the environment.
He gave the example of Mozambique, one of the poorest countries in the world, where recent wars have left large tracts of rich farmland unused due to landmines.
It was his contention that the mines killed the poor who are very far away from medical facilities and continued to kill even decades after being planted.
On a wider scale, he noted that landmines killed 500 people in the world a week.
And yet, he added, mines continued to be deployed weekly despite provisions of the revised landmines protocol to the UN Convention on Prohibitions on the continued use of weapons deemed to be injurious or to have indiscriminate effects.
He said countries that were once major agricultural producers have now been brought to their knees or to being beggars due to the use of landmines.
These countries either have no people to work on the farms or the mined farms are not accessible.
He used the example of Somalia, saying the country was once a major producer of sheep and cotton in Africa, yet the country can only afford to cope with hunger or beg for relief food for its citizens.
He also gave the example of Cambodia, saying the heavily mined Asian state was a major rice producer but after years of wars, it does not have a strong and a willing populace to work in the mine-infested farms.

26 june 2000 09:29:00

xhtml CSS