Angola: mine clearance makes the return of thousands of refugees possible

5,000 refugees who fled their homes during Angola’s 27 year long civil war can now return to their home area as it has now been cleared of landmines and unexploded ordinance.

After at least 12 years in refuge more than 5,000 people will now be resettled in Moxico Province in  Angola on land cleared of landmines by DanChurchAid (DCA). FCA has been funding this project for three years.

They fled Moxico Province during the 27 year long civil war that finally ended in 2002, and are now returning from Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo and other parts of Angola. They have not been able to return to their home locations before because of the threat of landmines and unexploded ordnance.

The threat is now eliminated as DCA on the 27th of May handed more than 587,457 square meters of cleared land in the area known as “Alto Campo” to the Provincial Government in Moxico Province.

The area Alto Campo is located only 6 kilometers outside the capital city of Moxico Province, Luena. The minefield was laid in the mid-80s by Cuban and government forces to protect the local airfield from attack by rebels.

Tribute to the staff

Angola is one of the most contaminated countries in the world and many areas lies desolate for years because of the threat of landmines just like Alto Campo.

However with help from organisations such as DCA more and more land is being cleared to the benefit of both individuals and the country as a whole.

At the handover DCA Programme Manager Anthony Connell gave tribute to the courage of the Angola staff who risked their life on a daily basis as they searched the contaminated ground clearing landmines and other explosive remnants of war.

He also explained that the work could not have been done without the donors funding the project: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Finland and FinnChurchAid, U.S. Department of State, the European Union and A.P. Moller Fonden & Bekgaard Foundation.

Text: Anthony Connell, Country Representative, DCA HMA Angola