Nigeria Clears Mined Areas

Farrah Zughni

Nigeria announced on June 20 that it had cleared all mined areas from its territory, making it the 17th country to declare itself mine free.

The announcement came at the four-day meeting of the Mine Ban Treaty standing committees in Geneva. The agreement forbids the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of victim-activated anti-personnel mines.

In a separate June 20 statement, Nigeria reported it had destroyed 820 anti-personnel mines, 325 anti-vehicle mines, and 17,516 other explosive hazards—many of which, according to the government, were deployed during its conflict with the state of Biafra during the 1960s.

Nigeria said it would submit a formal clearance declaration at the 11th meeting of states-parties to the convention, scheduled to be held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, from Nov. 28 to Dec. 2.

Separately at the Geneva conference, its president, Albanian diplomat Gazmend Turdiu issued a June 17 statement saying, “The use of anti-personnel mines in Libya will have devastating effects on civilians, [will] obstruct economic development and reconstruction and will inhibit the repatriation of internally displaced persons.”

In a June 27 e-mail to Arms Control Today, Kerry Brinkert, the director of the convention’s implementation support unit, said Turdiu “was expressing deep concern about all reports of anti-personnel mine use in Libya—by government forces and others.”

Both pro-regime and rebel forces in Libya have been accused of deploying landmines in recent months. (See ACT, May 2011.) Libya has not signed the Mine Ban Treaty.