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State commits to assisting landmine victims

NANCY SIAME, Lusaka
GOVERNMENT has re-affirmed its commitment to supporting the international call for a total ban of production, use and stock piling of landmines.
And Government says it is committed to assisting victims of landmines and other explosive remnants of war and will do everything possible to make them comfortable and feel a part of their community as they are unsung heroes.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Harry Kalaba condemned the use of the weapons and called on countries using them to stop immediately so that people can “walk in safety”.
Mr Kalaba said this in Lusaka on Friday to commemorate International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, which fell yesterday under the theme ‘More than mines’.
“In 2009, Zambia declared itself free of landmines in compliance with the convention on the prohibition of the use, stock piling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines and their destruction,” he said.
He said since the declaration, the country has continued with mine risk education and victim assistance programmes resulting in reduced cases of civilian casualties from landmines and other explosives.
“Despite the clearance, it is important for the people to remain alert because other explosive remnants of war such as hand grenades and motor bombs may still be found in isolated areas,” Mr Kalaba said.
Mr Kalaba said over the years, these landmines and explosive remnants of war have injured and killed Zambians, particularly civilians trying to make a living in the affected areas.
“It is this unacceptable harm caused by landmines and explosive remnants of war that prompted Zambia to join the anti-personnel mining convention in 1997 and has since domesticated it,” he said.
“My ministry in collaboration with other stakeholder ministries will be carrying out a needs assessment exercise of landmine victims to come up with a sustainable victim assistance programme,” Mr Kalaba said.

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