[Dateline: Barcelona | Author: iSeek]
The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) has received unprecedented financial support from the city of Barcelona that will benefit tens of thousands of civilians in Mozambique’s Sofala Province.
Barcelona City Council Mayor Jordi Hereu i Boher presented the cheque for €100,000 to UNMAS on Thursday, 23 October 2008, in Barcelona, Spain. The donation to the Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Action, which UNMAS manages, is the first by a city.
“It is unprecedented for a city to assist the United Nations’ mine action efforts,” said John Flanagan of UNMAS.
Mr. Flanagan expressed appreciation to the city authorities saying, “We are grateful that Barcelona has chosen to join the cause of removing landmines.” He added, “This generous contribution reaffirms Barcelona’s reputation as an international city.”
The contribution, half of which was being made available immediately, will enable Handicap International, a non-governmental organization, to remove landmines from a heavily affected part of the country later this year and in early next year. The other half of the donation will be made available in early 2009.
About 164,000 civilians are expected to benefit from the landmine-clearing project. The action will help Mozambique move closer to its goal of clearing all mined areas within 10 years of ratification of the Anti-Personnel Mine-Ban Treaty.
Barcelona has been supporting mine-awareness campaigns since 1995 but this is the first time the city is contributing to mine-clearance efforts that focus on improving the living conditions of people affected by landmines and explosive war leftovers.
Mozambique was chosen because its capital city, Maputo, has a “twinning agreement” with Barcelona.
Mozambique’s landmines and explosive war leftovers date back to the early 1960s and the country’s fight against colonialism. An internal armed conflict after its independence in 1975, as well as later involvement in external conflicts compounded the problem, leading to increased landmines and other explosives along the borders with Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Handicap International is an international non-governmental organization that supports the clearance of landmines and explosive war leftovers in countries such as Afghanistan, Bosnia and the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) provides technical support to Mozambique’s national mine action authority. UNMAS and UNDP are two of the 14 different UN departments, programmes, agencies and funds that make up the “United Nations Mine Action Team.”