United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) Force Commander Κristin Lund said one of the major risks in the buffer zone in Cyprus was that areas cleared by previous demining projects could be re-contaminated by devices from minefields outside the buffer zone.
In a statement on the occasion of the International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action which is observed each year on April 4, Lund said UNFICYP was aware of several sites where this has occurred in the wet winter months, when mudslides or flooding displaced mines from their original locations.
She recalled that in 2014, UNFICYP coordinated a project to clear two areas of the buffer zone where they suspected that mines had re-contaminated the land due to wet weather. On those two sites, according to Lund, Cambodian demining personnel from the UN Mission in Lebanon found and destroyed one anti-tank mine.
“This is a reminder for us that these deadly devices still pose a threat to the people living and working on this beautiful island. For UNFICYP, their removal is a humanitarian matter, independent of any other issue, and should be treated as the highest priority,” she said.
She adds that In the meantime, it was extremely important that visitors to the buffer zone had the necessary permits for their activities, that they respect the mine awareness signs, and follow the safety instructions provided by UNFICYP.
“At the same time I would like to reiterate UNFICYP’s readiness to support both sides in removing all remaining minefields in and along the buffer zone,” the statement concluded. (CNA)