Nation Plagued With Land Mines Detonates Last One

It took 22 years of work to make Mozambique safe
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 18, 2015 3:32 AM CDT
One of World's Most Mined Countries Finally Landmine-Free
Britain's Prince Harry destroys an anti-personnel mine in Tete Province, Mozambique, on June 21, 2010.   (AP Photo/HALO Trust, Fiona Willoughby)

Albert Augusto must be the happiest unemployed man in the world. He was the director of Mozambique's National Demining Institute until his job became obsolete this week with the detonation of the last known land mine in what used to be one of the most heavily mined countries in the world, the Guardian reports. Anti-mine campaigner Cindy McCain, wife of Sen. John McCain, detonated the mine from behind a wall of sandbags. "In a country like Mozambique, the people have lived in fear most of their lives and children have been born in fear," she said later when handing medals to workers from the demining group Halo. "This gives the country back its land and the children can be safe now."

Decades of conflict left tens of thousands of mines strewn across the country, killing or maiming hundreds of civilians every year—even after the civil war ended in 1992—and some had thought it would take centuries to rid the country of them, the New York Times reports. In a statement, Halo says its workers, using both manual and mechanical methods, had cleared 171,000 land mines over 22 years, helping communities to farm safely and helping the country to start rebuilding infrastructure and developing its economy. The group says Mozambique's mine problem seemed unsolvable as recently as 2007 and it hopes the success will show other heavily mined countries the way forward. (Explosives from WWI are still killing people in Europe.)

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