Thousands of landmines will be cleared from the Falkland Islands in a new £20m phase of demining work.
The project, welcomed by the Falklands Government, will make safe dozens of areas of the islands which have been unusable for residents and visitors since the mines were laid.
Expert teams will clear 46 minefields over the next two years and carry out surveys to prepare for the clearance of another 27, as the UK continues to work towards fully clearing mines from its territories – in line with its obligations under the Ottawa Treaty, which sets out the worldwide approach to landmine removal.
More than 30 minefields have been cleared from the islands in recent years. The latest phase of work will be jointly funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Ministry of Defence
Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister Alan Duncan said:
I welcome the news that both residents and visitors to the Falkland Islands will soon be able to go safely into areas which have been out of bounds for decades. Landmines have been a long-lasting and unwanted legacy of the 1982 conflict and the UK continues to be committed to removing them.
Minister for the Armed Forces Mike Penning said:
"The important de-mining work taking place is a fundamental part of our efforts to free the Falklands from this hazard. This additional £20m takes us a step closer to meeting our international obligations to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, and is another example of UK investment in the Falklands."
Michael Poole, Member of the Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly said:
"Falkland Islanders are grateful for the mine clearance work carried out by the UK Government in recent years. This work has opened up historically and valuable tracts of land which has been out of bounds since 1982."
"This further commitment by the UK to clearing more of the Falkland Islands of mines is a welcome move and we remain willing to assist practically and logistically where we can."
The Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (also known as the Ottawa Treaty) requires the UK to clear all mined areas under its jurisdiction or control.
Exact numbers of mines on the Falkland Islands are not known. The survey work announced in this project will help to establish the extent of the remaining minefields.
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