Angola To Host Landmine Pageant

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BBC News

Angola To Host Landmine Pageant

by
Mary Harper

Landmine victims are to take part in a beauty contest in Angola, where tens of thousands have been injured by mines.

The pageant has been organised by Angola's de-mining commission, and aims to restore the confidence of victims and raise awareness of their plight.0327 06

Millions of mines were planted in Angola during a 27-year civil war that ended in 2002.

The "Miss Landmine Survivor" contest will be held on 2 April in a luxury hotel in the Angolan capital, Luanda.

Eighteen women will take part, one from every province in the country.

All of the contestants have been maimed by landmines.

'Ambassadors'

The co-ordinator of Angola's de-mining commission, Madalena Neto, says the aim of the competition is to restore self-esteem in women injured in mine explosions, and to show that there is beauty in all people.

She says she wants the contestants to become ambassadors for victims of landmines.

Tens of thousands of Angolans have lost limbs or suffered other injuries in mine explosions.

And they continue to do so, even though the war ended six years ago.

It is rare to visit an Angolan town or village without seeing people struggling to cook, care for children or otherwise get on with their lives whilst struggling with a stick or, if they are lucky, a pair of crutches or an artificial limb.

The UN says that, despite an extensive de-mining programme, millions of landmines remain littered across Angola - and this means great stretches of the country are still out of bounds, too dangerous to farm or to travel through.

Perhaps the "Miss Landmine Survivor" contest will remind the rich and powerful in central Luanda that there is still a lot of work to be done, both in terms of ridding the country of landmines and of improving the lives of their victims.

© 2008 BBC News

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