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Press Release - 30 November 2009

After the 1990-1994 Liberation War and genocide against the Tutsi several anti-personnel and anti-tank landmines, hand grenades, motors, rockets and small to medium size projectiles as well as improvised explosive devices were littered all over the territory of Rwanda.

The National De-mining Office (NDO) was established in April 1995 to get rid of these killers, to liberate land for socio-economic activities, and to save lives of people and domestic animals.

In line with these commitments, the Government of Rwanda signed and later ratified the Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition on the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti–personnel Mines and on their Destruction on 8 June 2000, and the Convention entered into force for Rwanda on 1 December 2000.

To-date, a total of 52 major mined areas has been addressed representing a total of 1,946,755 square meters of land. This work has culminated in the destruction of 600 anti–personnel mines, 29 anti-tank mines and 2,034 unexploded ordinances [UEOs].

Article 5 of the Ottawa Convention obliges States Parties to destroy or ensure destruction of all anti–personnel mines in their areas of jurisdiction or control not later than 1 December 2010. The Government of Rwanda has fulfilled this obligation and the Ministry of Defence is happy to declare that there are no longer areas under the jurisdiction or control of Rwanda in which anti–personnel mines are known or suspected to be.

The Ministry of Defence is therefore proud to declare completion of mine clearance work on the Rwanda territory ahead of the Ottawa deadline and in preparations for the Cartagena Summit on a Mine Free World scheduled to take place in Cartagena, Colombia from 29 November–4 December 2009.

In the event that previously unknown mined areas are discovered, the Government of Rwanda will report such mined areas in accordance with its obligations under Article 7; ensure the effective exclusion of civilians in accordance with Article 5; and destroy or ensure the destruction of all anti–personnel mines in the mined areas.

The Ministry of Defence seizes this opportunity to thank all the partners who worked with the National Demining Office in making Rwanda a mine-free country.