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UK Seeks Extension For Falklands Mine Clearance

Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UK)

UK seeks 10 year extension of deadline for mine clearance in the Falklands

As provided for under Article 5 of the Ottawa Convention (anti-personnel mine ban convention) the UK has submitted a request for a 10 year extension of the deadline to fulfil its obligation to clear all anti-personnel landmines in mined areas under its jurisdiction and control. The only mined areas under the jurisdiction and control of the UK are located on the Falkland Islands. The request will be considered by States Parties to the Convention in November 2008.

There have never been any civilian injuries in over 25 years since the conflict ended. The mined areas are clearly marked, fenced and monitored. When landmines do surface and potentially pose a threat in and around the mined areas they are cleared by an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team that is permanently based on the Falkland Islands. The ongoing work by the EOD team means the mined areas pose a minimal risk to the Falkland Islanders.

A joint UK-Argentine Feasibility Study on the clearance of landmines in the Falkland Islands completed in October 2007 set out the significant environmental, technical and geographical obstacles these mined areas present for any de-mining operation. It concluded that the clearance of mines from all the mined areas would be challenging, but technically possible. The Study also highlighted the serious environmental damage to the Falkland Islands fragile eco-system that any de-mining operation will have and the major remediation effort required to counter this.

Following the completion of the Feasibility Study the UK is now considering next steps. The Falkland Islanders were regularly consulted while the Feasibility Study was being carried out and any future decisions will be made in consultation with the Falkland Islands Government.

The UK is not alone in submitting an extension request. At least 16 other countries are also expected to do so before the November 2008 meeting of States Parties.

The UK is the third largest donor to international mine clearance operations, contributing around £10 million a year. This demonstrates the UK's firm commitment to the Ottawa Convention.

NOTES

All extension requests, including the UK's, will be posted on the Convention's website in September '08. For further details see:

http://www.apminebanconvention.org/background-status-of-the-convention/clearing-mined-areas/article-5-extensions/states-parties-requests-for-extension/list-of-countries/

COI ref 161620P

ENDS

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