What You Need to Know:
An anti-tank mine has killed five civilians traveling on a motorbike in Angola’s Bié Province.
The deceased, two women and three men hailed from Bié’s Cunhinga Municipality and were the first mine-related casualties of 2024.
Angola became party to the Ottawa Treaty, known also as the Mine Ban Treaty in 2003, a year after the cessation of the Angolan Civil War, however, it has never put national legislation in place to implement the Treaty.
Furthermore, the Treaty requires its signatories to commit to the destruction of “all anti-personnel mines in mined areas under its jurisdiction or control, as soon as possible but not later than ten years after the entry into force of this Convention for that State Party.”
Angola has been unable to meet this deadline and has requested two extensions, the most recent granting an eight-year extension until December 2025.
The Government claims lack of funding is to blame for its slow approach to mine removal, which is much in part due to the sheer number of mines which litter around 785 million square feet of the Angolan landscape.
Gaining independence in 1975 after the ousting of the country’s Portuguese Prime Minister, Marcello Caetano, in a bloodless anti-colonial coup a year prior, the nation almost immediately plunged into civil war.
The combatants hailed from three main ethnic groups, the Ambundu people, the Bakongo people, and the Ovimbundu people.
The Ambundu people largely supported the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), which branched off from the Angolan Communist Party, while the Bakongo largely supported the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA). The Ovimbundu largely supported the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), which led to the collapse of a power sharing agreement between the three main parties and ushered in a civil war which would last for 27 years, albeit there were periods during which fighting calmed.
Additionally, the South African Defence Forces (SADF) and the United States provided UNITA with material support. In May of 1980, the SADF launched its own military operation in the country.
The MPLA were bolstered by Cuban troops and supported by-proxy by the Soviet Union.
The planting of landmines was common practice of each belligerent, which has created the large problem Angola faces today.