Eighteen suspected hazardous areas, which may be contaminated with mines, have been identified in Cyprus for clearing as part of confidence-building measure on demining agreed in February between the two leaders in Cyprus.
Nine are situated in the government-controlled areas of the island and nine in the north.
A UN source told the Cyprus News Agency that the 18 areas were identified last week by Unficyp and the United Nations Mine Action Service (Unmas – which is an integral component of the force – in cooperation with the National Guard and with military forces in the north.
The identified areas follow the ceasefire line, and are really close to the edges of the buffer zone, the sources said.
According to the same sources, a survey is going to start soon at the sites to see how big these areas are, what the terrain is like, whether there are people living nearby, how many military officers, what equipment and how much time would be needed for the work to be completed.
“All of this will be figured out, it will all be written down, discussed with two sides and once they agree with the scope of work and the start and stop date of this project we will organise a demining team to come to Cyprus and conduct this work,” the sources said, noting that the actual demining work would require a team of deminers to come in.
A team of Cambodian deminers conducted demining activities in the past in Cyprus. “We will have to have specialised trained troops to come in and actually conduct that work,” the sources added.
“This is an ongoing process. The important thing is that progress is being made and both sides are cooperating. This is something that is good for both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. Nobody wants to see anybody die because of the landmines,” the UN sources added.
According to Unficyp data, there are 47 suspected hazardous areas in Cyprus that may be contaminated with mines or explosive remnants of war, amounting to approximately 1.7 million square metres of land.