On Monday, Peruvian Minister of Foreign Affairs Rafael Roncagliolo announced that the Norwegian People’s Aid will submit to the Peruvian and Chilean authorities a demeaning operation plan in the “zona cero” on Friday.
The humanitarian organization arrived on August 6 in Santiago to meet with authorities and visit the common border area. It will be responsible for the demining of the Chile-Peru border.
“It is a first exploratory mission to agree on a timetable and the costs of such a task,” declared Roncablio.
The operation symbolizes the complex geopolitical situation in the 1970s, when Lima and Santiago, both under military rule, were almost involved in an armed conflict. In February 2012, heavy rains and mudslides swept some mines in Chilean territory to Peruvian soil next to an outpost which has heavy traffic between the two countries.
Since 1992, Norwegian People’s Aid has become one of the lead NGOs in the field of humanitarian mine action, undertaking programs to battle mines and explosive remnants of war. Spending more than US$30 million annually on this activity alone, Norwegian People’s Aid is currently active in 18 affected countries, including Libya, Serbia, Iraq and Lebanon.
According to Rafael Roncagliolo, demining operations should not take too long as the border area is relatively modest. The demining of the border area is essentially a humanitarian problem with little other significance, affirmed Roncagliolo. To employ foreign expertise in no way affects Chile and Peru’s sovereignty and in no way puts into question the 1929 treaty of Lima, which solved the dispute between Peru and Chile regarding the territories of Tacna and Arica.
“It’s an example of how countries in Latin America must work together. With Ecuador we are doing the same with the same purpose, ensuring that the border becomes an area free of mines and anti-personnel mines,” the Peruvian minister declared.
“Theses operations are the beginning of an administration that will lead to a closer relationship,” said Fernando Schmidt, Chilean Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs.
Peruvian and Chilean governments expect demining operations to be completed before December. On December 3, Peru and Chile will begin their oral arguments at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, over a long-lasting maritime border dispute.