Second phase of buffer zone demining project launched
Nicosia, Aug 12 (CNA) – The United Nations Peacekeeping Forces in Cyprus (UNFICYP) and the EC Representation on the island said here today the demining of the buffer zone will contribute to promoting reconciliation and is a step forward on the path to crossing points, normalcy and peace.
The statements by UNFICYP chief of Mission Zbigniew Wlosowicz and Kezban Akansoy of the EC Representation of Cyprus were made on the occasion of the launch today of the expansion of the EU-funded UNDP Partnership for the Future (PFF) demining programme’s activities into the minefields of the Turkish forces in the buffer zone.
Two landmines were detonated in a Turkish forces minefield in the buffer zone adjacent to the United Nations Protected Area (UNPA) and UNFICYP headquarters to mark the occasion.
In his speech, Wlosowicz said that to date, 13 minefields totaling an area of 575,686 square metres have been cleared and 2,186 mines destroyed.
He said today’s event “marks the expansion of the EU funded UNDP Partnership for the Future (PFF) demining programme’s activities into the minefields of the Turkish Forces in the buffer zone”.
Wlosowicz said that back in November, when the demining programme was initially launched, he had said “every mine destroyed brings us a step forward on the path to crossing points to normalcy and to peace and reconciliation. Hopefully it will not be long before more crossing points are opened”, he added.
In her speech, Akansoy of the EC Representation in Cyprus said the initiative is funded by the EU with EUR 4,0 mln and “it is an active contribution to peace-building increased safety and reconciliation here on the island”.
She also said the EU has a long-standing tradition of financing de-mining operations all over the world and it looks at this type of operations “as an essential factor to normalizing life”.
For Cyprus, she noted, “the mine clearing will further lead to normalization of the situation on the island” and is being held in “accordance with the EU’s Green Line policy as regards free movement of EU citizens and goods across the island”.
According to the Mine Action Centre of Cyprus, the mine clearing programme is implemented by the EU and the UN in full cooperation with the Republic of Cyprus, the Turkish Cypriot community and the Turkish military authorities.
The centre is composed of a project manager, an operation specialist, a finance administrative officer and a communications officer, as well as 44 persons who will work as clearance contractors and three quality officers.
The Mine Action Centre has been officially formed in October 2004 and the mine clearance activities began on 19th November 2005. So far the programme has cleared 1.294 antitank mines, 892 anti-personel mines and the total number of mines cleared reach 2.186 covering an area of 575.686 square metres.