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ANGOLA: A village free of landmines

Landmines and unexploded ordnance in Angola

Landmines and other deadly explosive weapons cleared from villages in Moxico are put into a demolition pit. Angola remains one of the most mine-affected countries in the world, and the worst affected province is Moxico. [Photos: Mike Fryer / MAG]

Though Angola’s civil war ended in 2002, the legacy of this quarter-century long conflict means that, for much of the population, daily tasks like fetching water or walking to school can end in tragedy.

Please donate to MAG's lifesaving work

Luzi is a village in the eastern province of Moxico. Like many communities in this war-torn part of the country, Luzi was heavily fought over by Government and UNITA forces during the war. Residents began to flee in the 1980s as a result, seeking refuge in neighbouring Zambia, and by 1995 the village had been deserted.

Ten years later, with peace prevailing, the first families began to return. But while the fighting had stopped, hidden dangers remained, as Luzi had been heavily mined by both sides during the conflict. Between 2005 and 2009 there were four accidents in the village.

Those people who had returned lived in fear that their next step may be their last; many who wanted to come home were too frightened to do so.

Between 2010 and 2012, MAG cleared 137,715 m2 of land in Luzi, removing 52 anti-personnel landmines, 17 anti-tank mines and 10 items of unexploded ordnance.

The impact of this work has been huge. In 2007, the village had a population of 65. The community did not have any access to social services: in the event of illness, locals would have to go to the hospital in the city of Luena, 185km away, while school classes were held in the Catholic church.

Today, there are more than 2,000 people living in Luzi. A market, school, health centre and housing have all been built on the cleared area, and land is being used for farming.

“I’m very happy with MAG’s work in my village,” says Soba [chief] Candala, the village leader [see video, above right]. “MAG removed the threat and enabled us to build new houses and use land for agriculture. And because the land is now safe, I’ve been able to ask the Government for a mobile phone antenna and a water pump.”

The new school has eight classrooms and educates almost 1,000 pupils from Luzi and the nearby villages of Chifioio, Saihanjica and Sautale. The health centre employs two nurses and receives around 20 patients each day from the surrounding area.

Though the impact of the work to date has been high, the massive scale of the landmine problem in Moxico province means that, beyond Luzi, many hazards remain. And with people still returning to the area, there is a need for further clearance.

MAG relies on donations to clear the remnants of war, such as landmines. Please donate online now. Your generosity makes a remarkable difference to the lives of families affected by conflict.

See also: WATCH ONLINE Surviving the Peace: Angola

Page published: 11 April 2013

Watch online: Soba Candala, the chief of Luzi village.  

A MAG deminer in Luzi, Moxico province
MAG removed 69 landmines in this village. Today, there are more than 2,000 people living here. A market, school, health centre and housing have all been built on the cleared area, and land is being used for farming.

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Thanks to all the public, institutional and government donors to MAG's operations in Angola, including:
• European Commission
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands
NVESD HD R and D Program
US Department of State's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement
Without this support, MAG's lifesaving work in the country could not be carried out.

About MAG

MAG (Mines Advisory Group) saves and improves lives by reducing the devastating effects armed violence and remnants of conflict have on people around the world.
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Co-laureate of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize  |  Registered as a charitable company in the UK  |  Company no: 4016409  Charity no: 1083008  |  ISO 9001:2008 accredited  |  International Mine Action Standards compliant  |  Signatory of the ICRC Code of Conduct  |  Member of the Fundraising Standards Board scheme  |  Registered office: Suite 3A, South Central, 11 Peter Street, Manchester, M2 5QR, United Kingdom