UK pledges £17 million to clear mines, protecting over 50,000 lives worldwide

In a landmark move, the UK Government has allocated £17 million to support leading British organizations, the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) and The HALO Trust (HALO), in their mission to clear mines and raise awareness about the associated risks in eight countries across Africa and Asia.

This funding, announced on February 20, builds upon previous support provided for similar projects in Ukraine and Afghanistan, ultimately benefiting over 50,000 individuals across the 10 nations.

The investment is anticipated to liberate almost 17 million square meters of land from the threat of mines, unlocking vast potential for agricultural, residential, and social development in affected communities.

Through targeted education initiatives, MAG and HALO aim to reach over half a million people, conducting more than 34,000 in-person sessions to enhance explosive ordnance risk awareness and community safety.

Minister for Development and Africa, Andrew Mitchell, emphasized the UK’s unwavering commitment to a mine-free world, stating, “Landmines are a nightmare – causing thousands of deaths and injuries each year.”

The additional funding reflects the government’s dedication to fostering secure environments where communities can thrive without the looming threat of landmines.

The announcement marks a significant milestone in the UK’s Global Mine Action Programme (GMAP), which has been operational since 2014, having supported the clearance of vast expanses of land.

The funding will extend support to heavily mined countries like Cambodia and Laos, as well as some of the world’s most impoverished nations such as South Sudan and Somalia until March 2025. Additionally, it will facilitate the launch of a new country program in Ethiopia, expanding the reach of mine-clearance efforts.

“Whilst much remains to be done in many active conflict environments in which we are working, this funding will provide vital assistance to many countries that are tackling the legacy of conflict, which continues to claim lives long after the fighting is over. This is an important step towards a mine-free world,” said Darren Cormack, CEO of MAG.

Furthermore, the funding will create opportunities for women in demining activities, promoting employment and career advancement in countries like Angola, Cambodia, and Laos.

James Cowan, CEO of The HALO Trust, acknowledged the pivotal role played by donors, particularly the UK government, in achieving significant milestones in mine clearance globally.

“Today’s funding announcement aligns perfectly with The HALO Trust’s monumental achievements: the clearance of 5,000 minefields in Cambodia, 1,000 minefields in Angola, and the disarmament of a staggering 2 million landmines worldwide,” said James Cowan, CEO of The HALO Trust.

He affirmed their commitment to continuing lifesaving work until the last mine is removed and the last munition is defused.

The funding announcement not only underscores the UK’s leadership in global mine action but also signifies a collective stride towards a safer and more secure future for communities worldwide.

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