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Country Reports
MALAWI, Landmine Monitor Report 2001
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Key developments since May 2000: There was one mine incident in Malawi in 2000, resulting in five casualties. Malawi reports that it is in the process of enacting national implementing legislation, but it has still not submitted its required Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 report, due on 28 August 1999. In December 2000, the United States did not approve Malawi for US demining assistance.

Mine Ban Policy

Malawi signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 4 December 1997 and ratified on 13 August 1998. It entered into force for Malawi on 1 March 1999. The government reports that it is in the process of enacting national implementing legislation.[1]

Malawi, while aware of its treaty obligations,[2] has not yet submitted its first transparency report as required by Article 7, which was due on the 28 August 1999, or subsequent reports due annually on 30 April.

Malawi did not attend the Second Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty in September 2000. It also did not participate in the intersessional Standing Committee meetings in December 2000 and May 2001. Malawi was one of the few African governments not represented at the all-Africa Seminar on the Universalization and Implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty in Africa on 15-16 February 2001, in Bamako, Mali. Malawi voted for the November 2000 UN General Assembly resolution calling for universalization and full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty.

Malawi is not a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling, Use

Malawi does not manufacture, transfer, use or stockpile antipersonnel mines and has discouraged other countries from manufacturing, transferring, using and stockpiling landmines. It insists that it has never imported mines in the past as reported in Landmine Monitor Report 1999.[3] The army has only inert dummy mines in stock, which are used for training purposes as allowed under Article 3 of the Mine Ban Treaty.[4] The Malawi Army and Malawi Police are responsible for the retention of these mines.[5]

Mine Action

Malawi believes that the slight problem of landmines in Malawi is the result of a spill over from Mozambique – both from landmines carried into the country by rain and brought into Malawi by refugees during the war in Mozambique.[6] No survey or assessment of the extent of the problem and specific location of the affected border areas has been carried out.

The United States interagency demining working group did not approve Malawi for US demining assistance on 7 December 2000, “since there is no evidence of landmines within its national borders. Malawi citizens routinely cross the border into Mozambique and are injured and/or killed by landmines there.”[7]

No demining initiatives have taken place along the suspected mine-affected border areas with Mozambique. The Malawi Army has the necessary skills to enable demining to take place, but the main obstacles are lack of funding and lack of equipment.[8] Some 1,000 kilometers along the border of Mozambique is suspected to be mined; the Army estimates that approximately 10% of the affected land could be used for agriculture and grazing.[9] Malawi is a member of the SADC Mine Action Committee, which also includes South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, and Swaziland.

No government-run mine awareness programs have been carried out in the affected area since the war in Mozambique when Malawi hosted a large number of refugees. At that time the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) conducted mine awareness programs in refugee camps as well as in communities surrounding the camps.[10]

A number of NGOs are involved in the provision of mine awareness along the border although this is being done without specific funding for mine awareness. The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), which is coordinating the Malawi Campaign to Ban Landmines, has been conducting mine awareness activities along the border through their already existing outreach civic education programs.

The government recognizes the importance of initiating mine awareness programs to the benefit of the communities living along the border areas.[11] The Malawi Army says its mine awareness program did not target civilians but rather its mine experts (Engineers).[12]

Malawi has not contributed to mine action programs either in cash or in kind.

Landmines Casualties

Malawi experienced one landmine explosion in the year 2000. Two young people, Zeka Manuel (age 20) and Bauleni Kachepa (age 19), were killed and three others seriously injured when a landmine exploded in the Muloza River in Mulanje district bordering Mozambique.[13] Eight young men aged 15 to 20 were fishing and washing in the river when one saw a plastic object on the riverbed and interfered with it. It is suspected that the landmine had spilled over from Mozambique. The victims were given first aid before they were taken to Mulanje hospital. This incident resulted in the government confirming publicly that Malawi has antipersonnel landmines on its soil.[14]

Some Malawian soldiers became victims of landmines during the Mozambique civil war. This happened mostly along the Nacala Corridor where they were deployed to guard the Nacala railway line, which had economic advantage for Malawi. The victims were provided with medical assistance and they were compensated in monetary terms.[15] The number of victims is not available.

Survivor Assistance

Assistance to survivors is mainly through the provision of first aid at the location of the incident, and medical treatment including artificial limbs where possible.[16] Artificial limbs are provided at government hospitals with orthopedic facilities. In other circumustances, NGOs dealing with people with disabilities provide support in the form of medical treatment. Little is done with respect to social integration unless the victims are registered members of an NGO that deals with disabled people. However, most of these NGOs are have insufficient resources and therefore cannot provide the necessary skills for full reintegration into society.

Disability Policy and Practice

There is no official disability policy in Malawi, but the UN Standards are in the process of being adopted by the government.[17] The rights of persons with disabilities are protected by a combination of special and general legislation. The judicial mechanism adopted to protect the rights of persons with disabilities is due process (legal remedy through the courts). Non-judicial bodies include an Ombudsman, a government body (Administrative) and Law Commissioner. The Law guarantees the following benefits: training, rehabilitation and counselling. The Law does not guarantee other benefits such as health and medical care, financial security, employment, independent living, or participation in decision-making that affects the disabled.[18]

There is a national umbrella organization where all organizations for persons with disabilities are represented. Organizations are often consulted when laws and regulations with a disability aspect are being prepared. Consultations take place at the national level. These organizations advocate rights and improved services, mobilize persons with disabilities, identify needs and priorities, contribute to public awareness, provide services, and promote and organize income-generating activities.[19]

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[1] Interview with Ernest Mungo Makawa, Treaties Officer, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Lilongwe, 10 December 2000.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Correspondence with Colonel Chimowa, Ministry of Defence, 24 January 2001.
[4] Interview with Lt. Col. Chidzalo, Malawi Army Spokesperson, Lilongwe, 12 December 2000.
[5] Correspondence with Colonel R.R.K. Chimowa, psc, Ministry of Defence Spokesman, Lilongwe, 24 January 2001.
[6] Interview with Ernest Mungo Makawa, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 21 January 2001.
[7] US Department of State, Office of Humanitarian Demining Programs, “Fact Sheet: Meeting of the Interagency Working Group on Demining, December 7, 2000.”
[8] Correspondence with Colonel Chimowa, Ministry of Defence, 24 January 2001.
[9] Interview with Colonel R.R.K. Chimowa, psc, Ministry of Defence Spokesman, Lilongwe, 24 January 2001.
[10] UNCHR Magazine, “Mine Awareness Campaign in Refugee Camps,” 1996.
[11] Interview with Ernest Mungo Makawa, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 21 January 2001.
[12] Correspondence with Colonel Chimowa, Ministry of Defence, 24 January 2001.
[13] The Nation (newspaper), Lilongwe, 30 October, 2000; Daily Times (newspaper), Blantyre, 30 October 2000; interview with police spokesman, Olive Soko, Police Headquarters, Lilongwe, October 2000.
[14] The Malawi Police Spokesman, Superintendent Oliver Soko was quoted in Binoculars Newspaper, Lilongwe, 2 - 8 November 2000.
[15] Interview with, Lt. Col. Chidzalo, Malawi Army Spokesperson, Lilongwe, 14 December 2000.
[16] Interview with, Mr. D. Phiri, Physiotherapist, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Blantyre, 9 November 2000.
[17] Government Action on Disability Policy, Part 11 Government Country Reports on UN Standards Rules – Malawi 1997.
[18] Ibid.
[19] Ibid.