Ethiopian Cyclists Against Landmines [Archives:1998/29/Sports]

July 20 1998

Two young Ethiopian cyclists arrived in Sanaa last Friday, 10th July 1998. Fekadu Zegaye, 31, of Addis Ababa and Sisay Birku, 21, from Dire Dawa are together cycling around the world.
“Our objective, which we want all the world to know, is to make people realize the great dangers of landmines,” said Fekadu. Anti-personnel landmines are buried in many countries in Africa such as Ethiopia, Rwanda, Sudan, and also in Asia and South America. “These deadly devices are the source of daily tragedy killing and maiming human beings and animals. They are also a big problem for the environment,” said Sisay.
“Our message for the world is that we are against the use and stockpiling of landmines and want to help people and protect the environment. We want authorities, international organizations, and NGOs everywhere to pay serious attention to this issue,” announced Fekadu.
The duet’s main objectives are to call for:
1. the removal of anti-personnel landmines to protect people’s lives and the environment;
2. helping financially the people and countries afflicted with landmines;
3. motivating NGOs, international organizations and governments to attend to this issue;
4. making the media more active in this field; and
5. helping people disabled by landmines.
“For example there are approximately 30,000 disabled people in Ethiopia because of landmines. They can’t get suitable work, and most of them have been reduced to begging in the streets. We are against this,” said Sisay.
“We encourage a country like Yemen which signed the agreement to get rid of the landmines buried under its soil.”
“In our tour, we are concentrating on countries manufacturing landmines or those plagued by wars. Our plan is ambitious. We plan to cover many countries. Now we’ll continue through Saudi Arabia to Egypt then cover the rest of the Middle East and get to Europe, starting from Turkey to central Europe.”They will continue through Spain to North Africa, Morocco, then go down through west African countries to south Africa. “If we get more resources and sponsorship; and provided things are okay we plan to go Australia and America.”Asked if they faced any difficulties in Yemen, they smiled. “Actually the change in weather was problematic. The other thing is the mountains. Yemen is a mountainous country, and cycling is hard in such terrain,” they said.
They added confidently, “We have faced some problems in the past. We’ll face more in the future. But we will push for our goals. People’s support keeps us going, and God is with us.”
Anwar Al-Sayyadi,
Yemen Times