From Pedro Agosto in Luanda, Angola
ANGOLA has invested US$60 million to clear hundreds of minefields planted during the 27-year civil war that ended in 2002.
This is part of a new conservation initiative between the government and charity organisations.
However, an additional $60 million is required to clear all the remaining minefields.
Angola’s investment over five years will fund clearance of 153 minefields in the southeastern province of Cuando Cubango, inside the Mavinga and Luengue-Luiana National Parks.
Mavinga and Luengue-Luiana are important parts of the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, which is the globe’s largest conservation area.
It spans Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
“Angola has committed to remove landmines from the parks so that wildlife can be conserved and economic development can thrive using the best models of sustainable tourism,” Paula Coelho, Minister for the Environment, assured.
Landmine clearance charity is spearheading the project.
It has been working in Angola since 1994, during which time it has destroyed more than 95 000 landmines and cleared 840 minefields.
An estimated 1 155 minefields remain to be cleared in Angola, equal to a total mined area of 121 square kilometres.
The explosives are a legacy of a civil war that began in 1975 when the former Portuguese colony secured independence.
It was a power struggle between former liberation movements, the ruling People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).
Meanwhile, some 1 815 people have died from an outbreak of measles this year as the disease emerges as the most lethal killer in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) this year.
The death toll outweighs the Ebola crisis.
Latest statistics are higher than the 1 437 deaths recorded from the Ebola outbreak confirmed in August last year.
Deaths from measles are from a cumulative total of 106 870 suspected cases. Comparatively, there have been some 2 145 cases of Ebola.
Children between 12 and 59 months account for 77 percent of cases and 90 percent of measles-related deaths in the country.
While Ebola is restricted to two provinces – Ituri and North Kivu - the outbreak of measles is countrywide.
Crisis-torn DRC has experienced several measles outbreaks in multiple health zones since 2010.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) lamented that the response efforts to the current outbreak faced many logistical difficulties in the face of the vast territory and the structural weaknesses of the health system.
“These are within the context of a prolonged humanitarian crisis,” said a local WHO spokesperson.
Vaccination coverage for measles vaccine remains inadequate in several health zones. This favours the simultaneous resurgence of the disease across the country.
DRC is planning a three-phase preventive measles vaccination campaign in October and November 2019 as well as February 2020.
Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease caused by a virus.
It affects mostly children and spreads easily through coughs and sneezes of infected people. – CAJ News