A team from Zimbabwe has achieved a milestone in the Falkland Islands after successfully clearing lethal minefields, almost 40 years after the end of a conflict where thousands of exploding devices were laid.
The programme, which was UK-funded began in 2009 and has completed its dangerous mission to de-mine the islands in the South Atlantic, three years ahead of schedule.
This team braved the harsh Islands’ physical conditions and oftentimes worked in remote locations through the unpredictable and sometimes extreme weather, to achieve their goal.
The removal of the mines laid during the 1982 conflict with Argentina means that the UK fulfilled the obligations set by the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention.
Effectively, the warning signs and fences which were now a common feature on the islands since the end of the conflict will be removed during a local event. The removal of the last mine means there are no anti-personnel mines on British soil anywhere in the world.
Islanders will mark the moment with the detonation of the final mine and the cutting down of fences which will finally re-open their access to beaches. Cricket and football will be played on the beach itself, to enjoy unrestricted access.
UK Minister, Wendy Morton who is responsible for the Islands, said:
“Our commitment to ridding the world of fatal land mines does not end with our territories being mine free. A further £36 million of UK funding will allow demining projects across the world to continue, protecting innocent civilian lives.”
The UK is one of the world’s leading forces in eradicating the world of mines. An additional £36 million of funding has therefore been given to the UK-funded Global Mine Action Programme 2, bringing the total to £124m, to continue demining projects in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. This recognises that landmines continue to cause harm and damage lives, several years after the end of conflicts.