U.N. mine clearing work under way in Mali

May 23, 2013 at 10:06 AM
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BAMAKO, Mali, May 23 (UPI) -- An anti-land mine advocacy group said it would work with a U.N. stabilization mission in Mali to clear unexploded ordnance from the country.

The U.N. Mine Action Service said it was preparing to deploy an African-led mission to work with the U.N. stabilization mission in Mali on mine abatement.

UNMAS set up an office in Mali in January, the same month the government called in French support to help fight nomadic fighters and al-Qaida militants who seized territory following a 2012 coup.

The land-mine group said it was operating in part with the help of a $6 million grant from the Japanese government.

"This grant will help the people of Mali by allowing for the voluntary return of refugees and of internally displaced persons and will help to provide humanitarian organizations safe access to all Malian communities," the U.N. mine agency said in a statement.

The European and French governments hosted a donors' conference for Mali last week, generating billions of dollars in financial pledges to support the Malian government. Malian officials said they're committed to general elections in July.

The mine service gave no indication of the level of contamination remaining in Mali. More than 900 remnants of war have been cleared from Mali, however.

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