One double amputee’s marathon for a mine-free world
– from Cairo to Cape Town in 120 days
17 January 2004
Today in Cairo, Swiss double amputee and ultra-distance cyclist Armin Köhli embarks upon one of the longest, most demanding bike races in the world, in one of the most mine-affected continents in the world – Africa.Armin, a Swiss citizen, wants to support efforts to end mine use and to clear mines, while raising the profile of disability issues in Africa. Proceeds from the gruelling 120-day marathon will go to Geneva Call and the Swiss Foundation for Humanitarian Mine Action.
“In many African countries, handicapped persons are hidden in society. Perhaps my participation will help highlight and promote handicapped sport in Africa. I would like to make myself useful for these mine victims, who often are handicapped like me. However, I would also like to do something for the prevention of such mine victims in the first place,” he said while training last November in Zurich, Switzerland.
The physically-fit, 38-year-old leaves the Giza Pyramids in Egypt today with more than 35 other cyclists. The annual Tour d’Afrique marathon race passes through Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia and finishes 15 May at the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. Mine contamination in Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia is extensive; the mine problem is less severe in other countries along the route. According to the annual Landmine Monitor, new casualties caused by landmines and unexploded ordnance have been reported in 24 of the continent’s 28 mine-affected countries in the period January 2002 and June 2003.
Tobias Gasser, President of Armin Köhli’s support association, Tour d’Armin, organised the fundraiser on behalf of the two humanitarian organisations. He volunteers his time to the association and is coordinating interviews with Armin throughout the marathon. Armin’s equipment, travel, prostheses, registration fees and associated expenses are covered by sponsorships.
Geneva Call is an international humanitarian organisation dedicated to engaging rebel groups in respecting humanitarian norms, starting with a landmine ban. To date, 25 non-state armed groups in the Philippines, Sudan, Iraq, Somalia, Burma and India have agreed to ban AP mines under Geneva Call.
For further information tel: +41 22 879 1050
Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) is a humanitarian mine action agency, active in clearance, survey, mapping and marking of mine fields. FSD conducts safety and awareness training for staff of international humanitarian organisations and offers technical assistance for the destruction of stockpiles of mines and ammunitions.
For further information tel: +41 (0) 22 737 20 41
Tour d’Afrique is an athletic event for amateur and professional cyclists of all ages. Registration fees help to support environmental, ecological and sustainable transportation charities throughout Africa. Funds raised from individual sponsorships are donated to the participant’s charity of choice. Tour d’Afrique offices are based in Canada.
Photos, backgrounders and information packages are available on request.