Lives saved as unexploded ordnance is removed in DRC
The people of Munekelwa in the Democratic Republic of Congo are looking forward to a safer, more prosperous future thanks to a project to clear their village of explosive weapons.
Photos: MAG DRC
During the civil war, which took place from 1997 to 2003, the once peaceful village in the eastern province of Katanga became a battleground taken over by government forces, supported by Zimbabwean and Namibian soldiers. Its population was forced to leave.
Though they were able to return after the fighting had stopped, the indiscriminate explosive weapons left behind – such as anti-personnel (AP) landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) – continued to threaten their lives and limbs.
This will help us to receive other NGOs in our village – my population needs support from them.
– Deputy Chief of Munekelwa village
There were at least three accidents involving AP mines and UXO after the war, one along the main road that links Kabalo territory (where Munekelwa is located) with Manono and Ankoro territories, and the others within the village.
MAG worked here in September 2013, removing 16 UXO items and one AP mine.
“Thank you very much to MAG for your work in our village,” said one female resident. “The risk of mines on our road is now avoided. Our children can now walk around freely, and go to school safely.”
Munekelwa’s Deputy Chief spoke for the 380 residents: “I am happy that MAG has cleared the road. This will help us to move safely, and to receive other NGOs in our village – my population needs support from them.
“Also, [now that the roads are cleared] I believe that people will transport their agricultural products to Kabalo town by car, and not have to use bicycles as we do now.”
Transportation by car means that more products can be delivered faster, enabling the people to make a living more safely and efficiently, and meaning Munekelwa can look forward to a better future.
• Our thanks to the Government of Japan and the Government of Germany for funding this project.
17 January 2014
Page updated 20 January 2014
VIDEO: Inside a minefield in DRC