The last landmine in Mozambique has been destroyed.
Once the most heavily mined country in the world, the last known explosive was removed this week from the base of a railroad bridge in the center of the country. It becomes the first such contaminated nation to be declared “Mine Free.”
Charities worked with Mozambique’s government for 22 years to clear the country, removing more than 171,000 landmines, and opened up more than 4,200 acres of land (1700 ha) for safe passage.
HALO trust, the UK charity made famous by Princess Diana, destroyed roughly 80% of the mines in the country. They employed 1,600 local people and used specially built machines in their 22-year successful effort to eradicate the deadly snares.
A Belgian charity, Apopo, used trained rats to sniff out landmines in parts of the country. The African giant pouched rats (pictured left) can smell explosives through the ground, but don’t weigh enough to set them off.
The decades-long effort to demine the country has opened up roads, bridges, and farmland. It’s also allowed the nation to develop its natural resources like gas, oil, and coal and expand its tourism industry.
With the success of the clearing effort, the country’s GDP is now expanding by 7 percent per year, making Mozambique one of the world’s fastest growing economies.
(READ more at BBC News) Photos: HALO Trust
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