Mine-free Cyprus by 2011 (Cyprus)

UN Special Representative and Chief Mission in Cyprus, Taye-Brook Zerihoun yesterday called for , a concerted push to achieve the goal of a mine-free buffer zone in Cyprus by 2011.


"Recent incidents have served as tragic reminders of the dangers these devices still represent", Zerihoun said, recalling the injuries sustained by de-miners and civilians in landmine explosions in 2008.

"Landmines can kill and maim, and they prevent Cypriots from enjoying the beauty and the potential abundance of large areas of their country," he added.

Zerihoun echoed the hope expressed by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for stronger action on de-mining. In a message to mark International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action today, the Secretary-General urged the international community to renew its commitment to carry out the "life-saving work" of freeing the world of the threats caused by landmines and explosives remnants of war.

"Beyond removing weapons, mine action means ensuring a safe environment for civilians, developing local capacity and restoring dignity to survivors through job opportunities and other reintegration programmes", the Secretary-General said.

"The benefits of mine action are evident in Cyprus", Zerihoun said. He said over 6.5 million square metres of land comprising 55 minefields have been "released" since 2004, thanks to the Mine Action Centre Cyprus. Mine action has made it possible to open crossing points between the north and south, including at Ledra Street in Nicosia, and to return land to farmers, he said.

But much work remained to be done.

"The job is difficult but it is possible", he said. "Provided there is a concerted demonstration of political will and continued funding, we can rid the buffer zone of landmines by April 2011. The people of Cyprus deserve no less."

Since it began its work in 2004, the Mine Action Centre Cyprus, a European Union-funded project of the UNDP's Partnership for the Future, has, with the support of UNFICYP, removed and destroyed 6410 anti-personnel mines and 3990 anti-tank mines. A total of 6.5 million square miles of land have been rendered mine-free, comprising 55 minefields.

Von: 04.04.2009, Cyprus Mail, www.cyprus-mail.com

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