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Algeria seeks compensation for damage caused by France colonisation

June 1, 2023 at 10:41 am

An Algerian holds an anti-France placard during a demonstration in the capital Algiers on April 16, 2021 [RYAD KRAMDI/AFP/Getty Images]

Algeria has again raised the issue of compensation for the victims of landmines planted by French colonisation in Algeria, resulting in over 7,000 casualties, including those who suffered permanent disabilities. The situation is the aftermath of one of the most significant colonial crimes, whose impacts have persisted long after Algeria gained independence.

President of the National Association for Landmine Victims in Algeria Mohammed Jouadi affirmed his organisation’s continued efforts to pursue the French state compensation for landmine victims and recognition of its crimes during the colonial era.

Speaking at an international symposium on Algeria’s experience in mine clearance, the spokesperson highlighted that Algeria remains committed to all international agreements and treaties. This dedication has rendered it a “pioneer” in this humanitarian mission, a title bestowed upon it by the international community. He further confirmed Algeria’s ongoing efforts to extend its help and offer assistance to countries, including those in Africa, sharing its expertise in combating landmines.

The discussion of pursuing compensation comes within a specific political context with France, with a new approach based on dialogue between Algerian and French parties. This is achieved by establishing a committee of historians from both countries to consider outstanding issues, as stipulated by the Algerian declaration signed by the presidents of both nations during Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Algeria in August 2022.

According to the official responsible for implementing the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, Colonel Rashid Masoud, Algeria, whose land was contaminated by more than 11 million mines: “Has spared no effort in mobilising its financial resources, and has managed to clear the country, assist victims in all aspects and fulfil its commitments.”

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The speaker emphasised that this international forum, hosted by the capital of Algeria, contributes further to the country’s efforts to achieve the humanitarian objectives of the Ottawa Treaty. This is particularly noteworthy as Algeria is a member of the Committee to Enhance Cooperation for 2023-2024, pointing out that “issues related to mine eradication cannot wait.”

It was mentioned that a regional approach could provide an additional opportunity to mobilise efforts in this field and highlight the humanitarian dimensions to eliminate this scourge, which still poses security, humanitarian and economic challenges in many parts of the world due to the remnants of wars and armed conflicts.

It was emphasised that Algeria has wholly cleared its lands of all mines, as declared in the annual report of the Ottawa Treaty, indicating that there is international recognition of the country’s pioneering experience in mine clearance and the role of the National People’s Army, which alone undertook this task and became a “pioneer and model”.

Minister of Mujahideen and Right Holders Laid Rebigua presented Algeria’s readiness to extend its hand to the international community and exert its utmost efforts with its pioneering experience to contribute to an “effective and coordinated” way to the challenge of removing anti-personnel mines planted in various parts of the world to reduce the resulting humanitarian and economic threats.

During this unique symposium, which bore the slogan “For a Safe Africa Free from Mines: Algeria’s Pioneering Experience in Combating Anti-Personnel Mines”, a documentary was presented highlighting the extent of the work undertaken by the army to clear Algerian land and its eastern and western borders of anti-personnel mines, and to assist the victims of these bombs.

Historically, it is evident that in an attempt to tighten the noose around the Algerian Revolution, the French colonisation constructed two lines of barbed wire in 1956 along the western and eastern borders to prevent the influx of weapons to the revolutionaries. Mines surrounded these wires to make them impossible to cross.

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