HALO Trust said it had destroyed the last known mine on the territory of the gas- and coal-rich southern African country, which was devastated by a 15-year civil war that ended in 1992.
The British charity said it had cleared more than 171,000 land mines from 1,100 mine fields since 1993.
Mozambique’s government estimates that 10,900 Mozambicans have been killed or injured by land mines, according to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), which cited government figures.
“The government of Mozambique will officially declare the country free of land mines today,” HALO Trust said in a statement on its web site.
A former Portuguese colony, Mozambique is still one of the world's least developed nations, but it is starting to tap huge coal and natural gas deposits with help from foreign investors.
“Mozambique is a compelling example of how dealing with the deadly debris of war systematically and in partnership with government, local people and donors can bring stability, recovery and growth to countries ravaged by war,” HALO Trust CEO James Cowan said in the press release. “HALO is proud to have been part of such a powerful legacy and hopes today’s news provides the momentum to strive for a mine free world by 2025.”
The Ottawa Treaty, which 162 countries have signed, requires states to destroy all anti-personnel land mines by 2025. Mozambique entered into the treaty in 1999, two years after it was drafted. Thirty-five U.N. states — including the United States, Russia and China — have not signed the treaty.
A total of 37 million mines have been laid across Africa, according to charity group SOS Children’s Village. Roughly 10 million of them were placed during the Angolan Civil War, which occurred between 1997 and 2002. Today, Angola is renown for its population of tens of thousands of amputees — victims of land mine explosions.
Only three African states — Morocco, Libya and Egypt — have not signed the Ottawa Treaty.
In recent weeks, deadly land mine explosions have made international headlines.
Yemen’s Houthis have been reported to use land mines in the ongoing civil war there. Human Rights Watch reported that on Aug. 1, nine people were killed and 18 wounded by the explosion of land mines in the nation’s second-largest city of Aden.
South Korea’s government alleged on Aug. 4 that two of its soldiers were wounded by land mines laid by North Korea, helping to trigger a war of words between the two long-time adversaries and a pledge of full-scale war from the North.
Although the U.S. is not a party to the treaty, Washington announced in June 2014 that it would not expand its land mine stockpile, which is estimated at over 10 million, in order to eventually accede to the agreement.
Al Jazeera and Reuters