MAG America Announces Release of Documentary on Landmine Crisis in Angola

WASHINGTON, Feb. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- On February 6, 2013, Mines Advisory Group (MAG) America will launch a documentary focused on its life changing work in Angola.  The film, Surviving the Peace: Angola,  tells the interconnected stories of two Angolans struggling with the tragedy of landmines: an 8-year-old landmine accident survivor and a former soldier turned MAG deminer, fighting to save his country's future.  The film will premiere in Washington, DC tomorrow at an event for government, corporate, and individual supporters of development in countries plagued with landmine and unexploded ordnance contamination.  MAG clears landmines and unexploded ordnance in countries recovering from conflict and currently works in 16 different countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.  

The film will kick-off MAG America's campaign to raise $100,000 for its program in Angola. Landmines contaminate all 18 provinces of Angola.  In a country already struggling with healthcare and rebuilding infrastructure, one in 334 Angolans is an amputee (James Madison University's Center for International Stabilization and Recovery).  According to the UN's World Food Program, at least 34% of the population in Angola is undernourished.  By affecting water safety, agricultural development, health campaigns and the socio-economic and emotional state of many inhabitants, landmines destroy the well-being of Angola.

MAG has worked in Angola since 1994, deploying Mine Action Teams to address the incredible need for landmine clearance, and using Community Liaison Teams (CLTs) to deliver Mine Risk Education (MRE) to teach Angolans about the danger that surrounds them and how to stay safe.  Even though the CLTs are vital to MAG's work, funding cuts are forcing MAG to shut down that function in its Angola program.  The $100,000 campaign will keep those teams funded for an additional 5 months.  This contribution would enable the CLTs to conduct over 60 MRE sessions and reach over 43,000 people during that period.

This is particularly vital given the recent increase in accidents, which has doubled since last year and is attributed to returning refugees being relocated to Suspected Hazardous Areas (SHAs), meaning they are forced to build their homes on top of contaminated areas.  In June 2012, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) revoked refugee status for Angolans in neighboring countries, deeming the situation safe for them to return. The only place to relocate these refugees, however, has been areas with landmine contamination since there is just no where else for them to go.  When MAG conducts clearance operations, the Mine Action Teams are finding and destroying weapons in homes and in markets, so the CLTs work daily to evacuate sections of the village to ensure their safety and the safety of MAG staff. 

MAG America Executive Director, Jennifer Lachman, addresses the unique challenges in that country.  "The fact that people are actually living in suspected hazardous areas and we essentially have to clear inside of people's homes is an appalling indicator of the extent of contamination," she said. "Despite the civil war in Angola ending ten years ago, it is one of the most desperate situations we have seen." 

In December 2012 at the 12th Meeting of States Parties to the Ottawa Convention, Santana Andre Pitra Petroff, Chairman of the Inter-sectoral Demining and Humanitarian Assistance Commission in Angola, reiterated the need for a 5-year extension to formulate a plan to meet obligations as a signatory to the Ottawa Convention to remove all the landmine contamination in Angola, fuelled by United States and former Soviet Union interests as an extension of the Cold War.  "It is common knowledge that Angola was one of the most mined countries in Africa and the Angolan people still thinks that the anti-personnel mines continue to be violators of the basic political, civil, cultural and socio-economic development of the country," he said.

MAG America is determined to improve the humanitarian crisis within this country through the continued commitment to removing the deadly remnants of conflict that put the lives and future of Angolans in danger. 

Visit MAG's website (www.magamerica.org/Angola100k) for more information, to see the film,  and to contribute to this cause. You can also send checks to MAG America or make gifts in honor of a friend or family member.

CONTACT: Patricia Loria, +1-202-531-6513, patricia.loria@maginternational.org

SOURCE MAG America



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