MAG has taken part in a discussion in South Africa on the issues facing Angola and how to become landmine free by 2025.
The aim of the meeting, convened by international forum organisers Wilton Park, was to identify challenges which face Angola and the landmine free goal set for six years’ time.
The country already holds an iconic status in the landmine issue after Diana, Princess of Wales famously walked through a minefield in Huambo in 1997.
However the stark reality is that Angola faces a significant lack of funding for which to implement the mine action strategy and work plan.
Inconsistent and inaccurate contamination data has also slowed progress with perception-based surveys carried out in the 1990s leading to massive over-estimations of the level of contamination, which then needed to be resurveyed.
New surveys carried out in all of Angola’s 18 provinces have gone a long way to reducing these figures, seeing a drop in estimated contamination of more than 70 per cent.
Meeting participants, including those from MAG – who were an official partner alongside the UK Embassy in Luanda – agreed that the country can become a success scenario but that it will take a concerted effort by everyone.
The Duke of Sussex’s visit to the minefield where his mother walked 22 years ago showed what is possible and the results of collective work in the mine action sector.
Huambo is now a thriving town. Prince Harry’s work also showed how mine action in Angola can support conservation, bringing a unique opportunity to link mine clearance to wider issues and show that it is a relevant and current issue.
The Wilton Park meeting identified actions for the Government of Angola as well as organisations like MAG who are supporting them to achieve the 2025 goal.
The timing was perfect, as states come together at the fourth Review Conference in Oslo next week to set the landmine clearance agenda to 2025.
Chris Loughran, Policy and Influence Director for MAG, said: “It is fantastic that Wilton Park prioritised this issue for discussion and that everyone involved in the meeting was united in developing a forward-looking policy agenda for Angola. It is time for the international community to ensure Angola is not left behind, to look forwards and find new ways of supporting mine action and its goals. It is an opportunity not to be missed.”