Falkland Islands to be completely cleared of mines 38 years after war

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By Laura Sanders  & AFP
Nearly 40 years after the Falklands War, the territory has been declared free of landmines.
Nearly 40 years after the Falklands War, the territory has been declared free of landmines.   -  Copyright  Michael Warren/AP   -  

Almost 40 years after the Falklands War, the UK's foreign office announced on Tuesday that all but one of the remaining anti-personnel landmines on the islands have been cleared.

The final landmine will be set off during a celebration there on 14 November.

Argentina invaded the British territory in 1982 but it was taken back by British forces 74 days later. Thousands of mines had been placed during this battle for territory located 400 km off the Argentinian coast.

The mine clearance was carried out by a team from SafeLane Global, under British supervision, enabling the UK to meet its obligations under the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention.

Wendy Morton, UK Minister with responsibility for the Falklands, said in a statement:

"This is a huge achievement for the Islands and we must pay tribute to the brilliant team of de-miners who put their lives at risk day to day removing and destroying landmines to make the Falklands safe.

"Our commitment to ridding the world of fatal land mines does not end with our territories being mine free. A further £36 million of UK funding will allow de-mining projects across the world to continue, protecting innocent civilian lives."

One final bang in the Falklands

On 14 November, the Falklands can officially mark the end of an era as locals will set off the final landmine. Cricket and football matches will also be organised on the beaches, which are now completely free.

The de-miners will be presented with certificates signed by Minister Morton at an official celebration on 17 November at the Government House.

"The removal of the remaining mines means that there are no more anti-personnel mines on British territory around the world," the Ministry said.

It also announced an additional £36 million (about 40 million euros), bringing the total to £124 million, to fund mine clearance projects in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.