Falkland Islands Declared Free of Landmines

By Jonathan Kitto, jonathan.kitto@fotbot.org

38 years after the Falklands War came to an end, the British Overseas Territory has been declared free of all landmines. Islanders have been celebrating and taking the opportunity to enjoy recently reopened beaches which have been closed off for nearly 40 years.

Argentine armed forces laid approximately 13,000 mines in the territory, with the presence of mine fields providing a lingering reminder of the conflict. Hopefully, with the last mines now removed, islanders can finally gain an element of closure, as well as being able to enjoy their home in safety.

Mine clearing has been funded by the UK government since 2009 as part of their commitment to the anti-personnel mine ban convention and carried out by a team of Zimbabwean experts. The hard work and dedication of the mine clearing team has led to the Falkland Islands being cleared of landmines 3 years ahead of schedule. The scale of this effort is not to be underestimated, with UK minister responsible for the Falkland Islands, Wendy Morton, describing it as a “significant achievement”.

With the Falkland Islands now clear of mines, this means that all British territories across the world are landmine free. However, the UK government will continue to support the removal of such indiscriminate weapons, announcing £36 million of funding to support demining projects globally, including in Zimbabwe.

The removal of the last landmines is a fantastic step forward for the Falkland Islands and a great international humanitarian victory, in the ongoing battle against the use of such weapons.