Eighteen suspected landmines have been identified with a view to be cleared, UN source tells CNA

Eighteen suspected hazardous areas, which may be contaminated with mines, have been identified in Cyprus, with a view to proceed with the implementation of the Confidence Building Measure on demining agreed last February between 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 occupied part.

A UN source has told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) that the eighteen areas were identified last week and that in order to do so UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) and United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS- which is an integral component of UNFICYP) officers cooperated with the National Guard and the military forces in the occupied areas of Cyprus. The identified areas follow the ceasefire line, and are really close to the edges of the buffer zone, it added.

According to the same source, a survey process 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 and conduct this work, the same source said, noting that the actual demining work will require a team of deminers to come in.

It recalled that, for example, a team of Cambodian deminers conducted demining activities in the past in Cyprus, adding that 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 concluded.

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 meters of land.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.

Source: Cyprus News Agency