from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE, (CAJ News) – THE Falkland Islands are now finally free of lethal minefields after a team of Zimbabwean deminers overcame challenging physical conditions to complete the exercise.
The breakthrough completes an exercise that started in 2009 and comes three years ahead of schedule.
The Falklands Islands are almost 40 years after the end of the conflict during which thousands of exploding devices were laid.
Explosives were laid during the 1982 conflict with Argentina.
The demining team from Zimbabwe, with supervising staff from British companies SafeLane Global and Fenix Insight, had to struggle with the islands’ tough physical conditions.
They often worked in remote locations and through the unpredictable and sometimes extreme Falklands weather, to achieve the goal to rid the Falklands of mines.
Wendy Morton, the United Kingdom (UK) minister with responsibility for the Falklands, said this was a huge achievement for the Islands.
“We must pay tribute to the brilliant team of deminers (Zimbabweans) who put their lives at risk day to day removing and destroying landmines to make the Falklands safe,” the minister said.
The removal of the last mine means there are no anti-personnel mines on British soil anywhere in the world.
The removal of the mines in the islands with a population of over 3 500 people means the UK has now met its obligations set by the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention.
However, Morton restated UK’s commitment to ridding the world of fatal land mines does not end with its territories being mine free.
A further £36 million of UK funding will allow demining projects across the world, she disclosed.
This brings the total to £124 million, to continue demining projects in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
– CAJ News