As a young MP, one of the saddest days of my life was, in knowing that our decision in Parliament- the right one – to end the illegal occupation of the Falkland islands, by a military junta, would inevitably cost many lives.
Now, for the first time since 1982, the Falklands are free of the thousands of landmines which were a terrible legacy of that conflict.
Over 23,000,000m2 (2,338 hectares) of safe ground has been restored to the island community, including many beaches and areas close to the capital, Stanley, and the main populated settlements.
Richard Hyslop, the Falkland Islands Government Representative to the United Kingdom and Europe, sent this news today:
Falkland Islands mine-free declaration
During the Falklands Conflict, in 1982, several thousand land mines were laid in the Falkland Islands.
These mines have impacted life in the Islands ever since.
On 14 November 2020 the Falkland Islands were officially declared mine-free for the first time since 1982. Importantly, this also marked the UK’s fulfilment of its clearance obligation under the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention. This is a significant achievement as the UK Government is able to declare that the UK and its territories are now mine free.
At the end of hostilities in 1982, UK Armed Forces made considerable efforts to locate and clear mines. Unfortunately, several soldiers suffered serious injury and the UK Government made the decision to stop clearance and fence off all suspect areas until such time as technology and processes had evolved that would reduce the risk. In the end over 120 areas were identified as hazardous.
From 1982 to 2009 some mines were destroyed in minefields by the UK Armed Forces’ Joint Service Explosive Ordnance Disposal Detachment using remote controlled equipment.
In 1997 the UK, alongside 121 other nations, signed the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, also known as the Ottawa Convention, which prohibits the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of antipersonnel mines and commits signatories to removing such mines from territories over which they have jurisdiction or control. To that end the UK restarted clearance work in 2009 selecting SafeLane Global Ltd (previously known as BACTEC Ltd) to carry out the clearance work and Fenix Insight Ltd to provide the Demining Programme Office, responsible for monitoring the progress, quality, safety, and environmental aspects of the work.
The clearance teams, with their Zimbabwean deminers, have destroyed over 10,000 mines and assorted items of unexploded ordnance.
This has resulted in the release of over 23,000,000m2 (2,338 hectares) of safe ground back to the community that had been prohibited from using many beaches and areas close to the capital, Stanley, and the main populated settlements.
This is clearly wonderful news, and the Falkland Islands Government would like to thank all those involved in the demining programme, including support from successive UK governments.
Falkland Islands Government Representative to the United Kingdom and Europe