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Country Reports
Malawi, Landmine Monitor Report 2004


Key developments since May 2003: UNMAS undertook an assessment mission from 19-29 August 2003. It confirmed the mine/UXO problem along the Mozambique border, and indicated the training camps of the disbanded paramilitary organization, Malawi Young Pioneers, are suspected of being contaminated. Malawi is considering national implementation legislation. Malawi has approved the creation of a Landmine National Authority.

Key developments since 1999: Malawi became a State Party on 1 March 1999. Malawi has not enacted legal measures to implement the treaty, but stated in 2004 that national legislation is under consideration. Malawi submitted its initial Article 7 Report, due on 28 August 1999, on 9 April 2003. It stated that Malawi has no stockpile of live antipersonnel mines, even for training purposes. It acknowledged suspected mined areas along the border with Mozambique. Malawi states it has the capacity but not the resources to conduct mine clearance. Limited mine risk education has been carried out in affected parts of the country. From 1986 to 2003, landmines killed at least 41 people and injured around 1,000 others.

Mine Ban Treaty

Malawi signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 4 December 1997, ratified on 13 August 1998, and the treaty entered into force on 1 March 1999. Malawi has not yet enacted national legislation. In May 2004, Malawi stated, “Malawi has prepared Project proposals to be implemented during the next quarter to include legislation.... Malawi is liaising with the German Government for consultative advice and assistance on the proper legislation.”[1]

Malawi submitted its initial Article 7 transparency report on 9 April 2003, covering the period from September 2002 to February 2003.[2] This report was due on 28 August 1999.[3] Malawi submitted its annual update, due on 30 April, on 6 May 2004.[4] It covers the period September 2003 to April 2004.

Malawi has attended three annual Meetings of States Parties (in 1999, 2002, and 2003) as well as intersessional Standing Committee meetings held in 2003 and 2004. Malawi’s participation in international Mine Ban Treaty meetings has increased due to the sponsorship program. Regionally, Malawi did not attend a landmines seminar held in Mali in 2001.[5]

Malawi has not engaged in the extensive discussions that States Parties have had on matters of interpretation and implementation related to Articles 1, 2, and 3. Thus, Malawi has not made known its views on issues related to joint military operations with non-States Parties, foreign stockpiling and transit of antipersonnel mines, antivehicle mines with sensitive fuzes or antihandling devices, and the permissible number of mines retained for training.

Malawi has voted in support of every annual pro-ban UN General Assembly resolution from 1996 to 2003, except for 1999 and 2001, when it was not in attendance for the vote.

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

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling and Use

Malawi’s 2003 Article 7 Report states that it has never used, produced or stockpiled landmines.[6] Malawi listed 21 dummy mines that the Defense Force has retained for training purposes at Combat Support Battalion, Mvera.[7]

Landmine Problem, Survey and Assessment

Although Malawi does not appear to have a serious mine problem, it has reported that there are areas suspected to contain mines along the 1,000-kilometer border with Mozambique, which were placed “probably during the civil war in Mozambique from 1975-1990.”[8] There have also been some reports of mines on the border with Zimbabwe.[9] Malawi’s Article 7 reports do not list this border area as suspected to be mined.

In response to a request from the Malawi government, the UN Mine Action Service undertook an assessment mission from 19-29 August 2003. It confirmed the problem along the Mozambique border. The UN assessment report also linked mine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) problems in Malawi to the existence of the disbanded paramilitary organization, Malawi Young Pioneers (MYP), formed under the previous one-party system. UNMAS reported that the MYP had 33 training camps located in 22 of the country’s 27 districts, and these camps are suspected of being contaminated, especially with UXO.[10] Further, because of regular flooding in the region, it is feared that antipersonnel mines and UXO may have moved. The majority of suspected contaminated areas are located in rural areas, with people and livestock living in close proximity.

The UN assessment mission observed that no detailed survey or assessment had ever been conducted in Malawi, although in 1998, the Army conducted an initial survey of suspected mined areas along the border with Mozambique.[11] In 2003, Landmine Monitor reported that a technical (Level 1) survey, planned by the Malawi Army in 2002, had not been carried out due to a lack of funds.[12]

Mine Action Coordination and Mine Clearance

Malawi has approved the establishment of the Landmine National Authority, as a policymaking and coordinating body, to meet twice a year, or as required.[13] Members of the National Authority include government ministries/departments that are affected by the landmines issue, and members of civil society, including the Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Malawi Red Cross Society.[14] Malawi is also in the process of establishing a central office under the Ministry of Defence, with technical experts to coordinate and monitor implementation of the ban treaty, including clearance.[15]

At the June 2004 intersessional meetings, Malawi stated, “The Government of Malawi continues to take the necessary steps in order to ensure that the country is free of Mines and Unexploded Ordnances by the deadline of 2009.”[16] The Malawi Army has been consistent in its position that it has the capacity to clear mines.[17] Resources appear to be the issue impeding this work.

In 2003, Malawi also noted that the Malawi Army is able to provide military engineers to assist other countries in demining programs. Malawi engineers have, for example, assisted Mozambique in demining the Nacala railway line, which had been heavily mined during the civil war.[18]

Mine Risk Education

The August 2003 UN assessment mission noted that while the general population is unaware of the potential threat, affected populations in Malawi seem to have developed a “natural awareness,” but warned this would diminish with time.[19]

In its 2004 Article 7 report, Malawi said that it “has put some posters to indicate danger areas where landmines have exploded before, especially along the Mozambique border. Posters have also been put in some former MYP camps where explosives have exploded to warn the local population.... More civic education is planned for the next quarter.”[20] It also noted that it was preparing MRE and other projects in response to UNMAS recommendations.[21]

In June 2004, Malawi stated in Geneva: “On Mine Risk Education, the Government of Malawi will embark on civic education in order to enlighten the general public of the Mine and UXO problem throughout the country with emphasis in the suspected areas. The government will also work hand in hand with the civil society and the media in this endeavour. However, due to lack of capacity building, we need assistance in training our personnel in order for them to carry out their duties effectively.”[22]

Limited mine risk education activity has taken place in Malawi. The Army has an MRE program focused on its own personnel. The CHRR has for years conducted mine risk education along the suspected border areas, through its existing outreach civic education program.[23] The 2003 UN assessment mission also noted the local Red Cross incorporated MRE into existing awareness programs. 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 MRE programs in refugee camps, as well as in communities surrounding the camps.[24]

Mine Action Funding

In June 2004, Malawi said it was committed to putting mine action in the 2004 and 2005 national budgets, while noting that additional resources would be needed.[25] At both the February and June 2004 intersessional meetings, Malawi made reference to actively seeking funding from the donor community to help meet its mine action obligations.[26]

Landmines Casualties

In 2003, four children were injured in two landmine incidents. In May, two boys were injured when a landmine hidden in the roof of an unused kitchen exploded after the boys lit a fire to keep warm. A seven-year-old had his left leg amputated and a 12-year-old suffered multiple injuries. Both were treated at the Mangochi District Hospital, 300 kilometers (186 miles) north of Blantyre.[27] And in November, two children aged three and seven were injured at a former paramilitary camp in the district of Mchinji. One child had his leg amputated.[28] No mine incidents were reported in 2001 or 2002; however, in 2000, two people were killed and three others injured after a landmine exploded in the Muloza River.[29]

In its 2004 Article 7 Report, Malawi indicated that it was planning a detailed survey to determine the number of mine survivors and their needs.[30] Previously, there was no comprehensive data collection system and little information available on mine incidents in the past. The police, Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) and some local and international organizations are the main sources of information on mine/UXO incidents. According to a UN assessment mission in 2003, the number of mine/UXO incidents was not great with a preliminary report indicating only 40 incidents.[31] However, according to recently released figures by Colonel Reuben Ngwenya, from 1986 to 2003 landmines killed at least 41 people and injured around 1,000 others. It is believed that the true figure could be higher as incidents in rural areas may not be reported. Malawi intends to provide more details at the Review Conference in Nairobi in November.[32]

About 30 Malawian soldiers were killed and another 20 injured by landmines during the Mozambique civil war.[33]

Survivor Assistance and Disability Policy and Practice

According to the UN assessment mission to Malawi, the MoHP lacks the capacity to provide surgical and orthopedic treatment for major trauma related injuries, including mine/UXO casualties. No emergency evacuation system exists to transfer mine/UXO casualties to health clinics and there are only two orthopedic surgeons and about eight general surgeons available in the country. There are no specific programs for landmine survivors. Malawi has two state-run rehabilitation clinics and two private clinics with only about four orthopedic technicians to serve the needs of all persons with disabilities. Opportunities for psychological support, vocational training and other socio-economic reintegration activities are very limited particularly in rural areas.[34]

The Malawi Council for the Handicapped (MACOHA) provides support for persons with disabilities including physical rehabilitation and socio-economic reintegration. However, MACOHA has no specific information on landmine survivors, nor does the Ministry of State Responsible for People with Disabilities.[35]

In Malawi the rights of persons with disabilities are protected by a combination of special and general legislation. In 2002, it was reported that the government was in the process of formulating a national disability policy; however, it would appear that no progress has been made.[36] The Minister of State Responsible for Persons with Disabilities is a cabinet-level position and is held by a person with a disability.[37]

Malawi submitted the voluntary Form J attachment to its Article 7 report in 2003, stating that, “Some care has been offered to victims in the form of provision of artificial legs, hospital medication and transport when they are required for medical review. There is, however, still more to be done in the identification and care of these victims.”[38] The Form J was also submitted in 2004.

In the past Malawi hosted large numbers of refugees from Mozambique. Between 1986 and 1989, over 1,035 Mozambican landmine survivors were treated at the Orthopedic Center at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Blantyre.[39]

[1] Article 7 Report, Form A, 6 May 2004. The delay is attributed to a lack of capacity in the Ministry of Justice. Correspondence with Ernest Makawa, Treaties Officer, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lilongwe, 26 January 2003.
[2] The report was dated 28 February 2003, but it was not submitted to the UN until 9 April 2003.
[3] The delay is attributed to a lack of capacity in the Ministries of Justice and Foreign Affairs. Correspondence with Ernest Makawa, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 12 April 2002.
[4] The date on the report is given as 29 April 2004, but it was not submitted to the UN until 6 May 2004.
[5] Interview with Maj. Chisukha, Malawi Army, Lilongwe, November 2003.
[6] Article 7 Report, 9 April 2003. Malawi denied receiving antipersonnel landmines, as part of broader military assistance packages from the United States in the 1990s, claiming that it only acquired mine detection equipment. US Army Intelligence reported supplying mines. See Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 38-39 and Landmine Monitor Report 2000, pp. 60-61, for further details.
[7] Article 7 Report, Form D, 9 April 2003. UNMAS identified the dummies as PMN, POMZ-2, OZM types of antipersonnel mines and TM46 antivehicle mines. UNMAS, “Mine Action Assessment Mission to Malawi,” 19-29 August 2003.
[8] Article 7 Report, Form C, 9 April 2003.
[9] One article in 2002 said that people in some areas along that border had reported landmine casualties, and that their pleas to leaders to do something about the mines had been ignored. Hobbs Gama, “Landmines Clearing Operation Face Serious Hitches,” African Church Information Service, 25 November 2002.
[10] UNMAS, “Assessment Mission,” 19-29 August 2003. The MYP training camps were located in following districts: Zomba, Kasungu, Blantyre, Ntcheu, Mangochi, Thyolo, Chiradzulu, Dedza, Dowa, Mchinji, Ntchisi, Mulanje, Mwanza, Nsanje, Chitipa, Karonga, Chikwawa, Salima, Rumphi, Lilongwe, Nkhota-Kota and Mzimba.
[11] Col. R.P Ngewnya, Malawi Armed Forces, “Malawi report on mobilizing resources to achieve the convention’s aims, survey for mine affected states parties,” Lilongwe, Malawi, January 2003.
[12] Additionally in 2002, Landmine Monitor noted a 1998 “Report on Landmine Survey,” by the Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR). According to an email from CHRR on 17 July 2002, this survey was “an information collecting exercise by CHRR to try to establish the extent of the problem of landmines in the country and the impact on the lives of people in the affected areas by collecting information in the border areas and interviewing a limited number of experts.” See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 33.
[13] In its initial Article 7 report, Malawi reported that it was “in the process of establishing a Mine Action Centre and a Land Mine Authority.” Article 7 Report, Form A, 9 April 2003.
[14] Malawi Country Brief to the UN Technical Team, Lilongwe, 20-27 August 2003.
[15] Ibid. The mechanisms for establishing the office were still under discussion in mid-2004. Email from Undule Mwakasungura, CHRR, 13 July 2004.
[16] Statement by Malawi, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies, Geneva, 22 June 2004.
[17] Since Landmine Monitor began issuing annual reports in 1999, military personnel have provided regular statements to this effect. Most recently in 2003, it reported Col. R.P Ngewnya, “Malawi report on mobilizing resources to achieve the convention’s aims, survey for mine affected states parties,” Lilongwe, Malawi, January, 2003.
[18] Ibid.
[19] UNMAS, “Assessment Mission,” 19-29 August 2003.
[20] Article 7 Report, Form I, 6 May 2004.
[21] Ibid, Form A.
[22] Intervention by Malawi, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, 22 June 2004.
[23] Landmine Monitor Report 2003, p. 326.
[24] UNCHR Magazine, “Mine Awareness Campaign in Refugee Camps,” 1996.
[25] Statement by Malawi, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, 22 June 2004.
[26] Ibid; Statement by Malawi, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, 11 February 2004.
[27] “Two boys injured in explosion of suspected landmine,” Associated Press, 2 May 2003.
[28] Presentation by Malawi, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, 11 February 2004.
[29] Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 93; for earlier reported casualties see Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 40-41.
[30] Article 7 Report, Form J, 6 May 2004.
[31] UN, “Report from the Inter-Agency Mine Action Assessment Mission to Malawi,” 5 February 2004, pp. 8-9, and 14.
[32] Interview with Col. R.P. Ngwenya, Armed Forces, 14 September 2004; “Dealing with the Threat of Landmines,” IRIN, 30 August 2004.
[33] Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 41.
[34] UN, “Report from Assessment Mission to Malawi,” 5 February 2004, p. 11.
[35] Letters from W.A. Kachingwe, Ministry of State Responsible for People with Disabilities, Blantyre, 28 January 2003 and 29 January 2002.
[36] Letter from W.A. Kachingwe, Ministry of State, 29 January 2002; see also Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 94.
[37] US Department of State, “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Malawi 2003,” Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Washington DC, 25 February 2004.
[38] Article 7 Report, Form J, 9 April 2003.
[39] CHRR, “Landmine Situation in Malawi: Survey Report,” June 1999.