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1.7 million m2 of Cypriot land may be contaminated with mines -UNFICYP

March 28, 2019 at 11:00am

Deliberations are underway in relation to a decision to push forward with the demining of certain areas, as part of the Confidence Building Measures (CBM) agreed last February by the leaders in Cyprus, with Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou noting that the Greek Cypriot side expects the measure to be implemented.

President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci met on February 26 and agreed, among others, to proceed with the clearance of nine suspected hazardous areas on both sides of the island, with a view to working towards a mine-free Cyprus.

At the same time UNFICYP data indicates that there are 47 suspected hazardous areas in Cyprus that may be contaminated with mines or explosive remnants of war, amounting to approximately 1.7 million square metres of land.

In a message on the occasion of the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls on all states to provide political and financial support for mine action.

Speaking to CNA, Prodromos Prodromou said that with regard to the implementation of this particular CBM “deliberations among the competent authorities between the two sides are ongoing and we hope that they will cooperate.”

Referring to the leaders’ meeting in February, the Government Spokesman said that “there was a specific agreement during the last meeting, and we expect this to materialise.”

This is a positive development, Prodromou went on, adding however that “as long as there are occupation troops on Cyprus, complete normalisation is not feasible.”

Referring to April 4, Prodromou said that the International Day is particularly relevant for the Republic of Cyprus and its efforts to completely eradicate mines. “Already in our side the anti-personnel mines –the worst form of mines – have been removed” the Government Spokesman concluded.

According to data from the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in Cyprus, until October 2018, a total of 199,783m² of land in the northern, Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus was released since August 2016 to remove the threat of mines and to facilitate confidence building measures, agricultural and other activities. Moreover, 7 anti-tank mines were recovered and destroyed, while six mortars were removed.

In the buffer zone, UNMAS says that 121,891m² of land was released and unexploded ordnance was removed, in an effort to facilitate safe operations for the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), confidence building measures, and agricultural activities.

UNMAS also removed unexploded ordnance and provided field support, technical advice, and training for the Committee on Missing Persons to safely conduct operations and promote reconciliation between the communities.

Secretary-General calls for political support for mine action
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All people have the right to live in security, and not fear their next step, says UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in his message on the occasion of International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. “Mine action clears paths and creates safe ground on which homes can be built or rebuilt” he goes on, adding that mine action gives people and communities new horizons and hope.

“For more than 20 years, the United Nations has helped States to free themselves from the threat of mines, explosive remnants of war and improvised explosive devices” Guterres goes on and points to the new campaign “Safe Ground”, launched by the UN this year, aiming to turn minefields into playing fields and to raise resources for victims and survivors of armed conflict.

The Secretary-General calls on all states to provide political and financial support for mine action. Moreover, he calls call on states that have not yet acceded to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and associated Protocols, and the Convention on Cluster Munitions, to do so without delay.

Guterres pays finally tribute to the UN Mine Action Service and to the women and men who show extraordinary bravery in advancing this vital work, literally step by step.

(Cyprus News Agency)