The United Kingdom government decision to remove funding for mine clearance operations in Zimbabwe has been viewed as unfair since local de-miners helped in the clearing of landmines in the Falkland Islands.
By Hillary Munedzi
Zimbabwe, Vietnam and South Sudan are some of the countries worst blighted by cluster munitions and landmines.
Zimbabwean de-miners worked in the Falkland Islands, the British overseas territory that was peppered with about 13 000 mines by Argentinian forces during the 1982 war.
The Falklands were declared mine free in 2020 with Zimbabwean de-miners working in tough conditions to rid the Islands of the land mines.
“My Lords, I declare my interest as co-chair of the Zimbabwe APPG. I may be able to help the Minister with the answer to the question from the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne. Last year, landmine clearance in the Falkland Islands was completed, with Minister Wendy Morton paying particular tribute to the brilliant contribution of the team of Zimbabwean deminers.
“In the context of this assistance, does the Minister recognize that it is absolutely unacceptable for the Government to cut entirely our mine-action”, said Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park in the UK parliament recently.
If the planned cuts are implemented ,UK funding for clearing mines and unexploded bombs around the world is expected to drop by about 75%,from £100m to £25m.
“I think it is worth repeating this really important point so that the Minister hears: there has been a 75% cut in our landmine clearance work. That will result in deaths. While the Minister is waiting for another nine months, many children and women will be killed as a consequence of this action. It is no good talking about the past; it is the future we are concerned about. Will he, therefore, go back to his department and say, “Restore these cuts now”?,” added Lord Goldsmith.
The HALO Trust has been working in Zimbabwe since 2013 and their budgets will be drastically reduced and besides the negative news the Trust is committed to continue its noble cause of clearing landmines in Zimbabwe.
“HALO Trust is not cutting funding ,the UK Government has announced plans to cut the funding it gives to HALO and other operators in Zimbabwe.
The HALO Trust has been clearing landmines in Zimbabwe since 2013 and has destroyed over 130 000 landmines in the country. The landmines date back to the Liberation War in the 1970’s.The UK Government has been funding our work ,but has recently released plans to cut all of its support for landmine clearance in Zimbabwe.
We are campaigning to try to get the UK to reverse this decision. We are also working hard to secure other sources of funding to allow us to replace any reduction by the UK.
It will be difficult to reach the landmine free 2025 target if the UK does cut its support for mine clearance in Zimbabwe.
Whatever happens ,HALO will continue its work in Zimbabwe thanks to support from other donors such as the United States of America, Japan and Ireland, ”said Paul McCann ,head of Communication for HALO Trust.
Zimbabwe has an ambitious revised plan to clear all landmines by 2025 since it is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world ,with dense zones of landmines laid by the former Rhodesian regime along the country’s borders with Mozambique and Zambia during the liberation war in the 1970s
The Halo Trust estimates that these unfenced minefields have killed or injured more than 1,500 people since independence in 1980.