CYPRUS: 18 suspected landmines identified to be cleared by UN

Eighteen suspected hazardous areas, which may be contaminated with landmines, have been identified in Cyprus for removal.

This constitutes a Confidence Building Measure on demining agreed in February by Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.

Nine of these areas are situated in the government- controlled areas of the island and nine in the Turkish-held north.

A UN source told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) that the 18 areas were identified last week by the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) officers in cooperation with the National Guard and military forces in the north.

The identified areas straddle the ceasefire line and are really close to the edges of the buffer zone.

According to the source, a survey is going to start soon at the sites to see how big these areas of land are, what their geography is, if there are people living nearby, how many military officers, what equipment and how much time will be needed for the whole work to be done.

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 organize for a demining team to come to Cyprus, said the source.

A team of Cambodian deminers conducted demining activities in the past in Cyprus, we will have to have specialized trained troops to come in and actually conduct that work.

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 source said.

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.

Source: The Financial Mirror