47 hazardous landmine areas in Cyprus

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UN data indicates 47 suspected hazardous areas in Cyprus may be contaminated with mines and/or ERW (explosive remnants of war), covering approximately 1.7 million square metres.

According to the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), 199,783m² of land has been released in the occupied areas since August 2016 to remove the threat of mines and to facilitate confidence-building measures and agricultural and livelihood activities.

According to the figures, seven anti-tank mines were recovered and destroyed, six mortars were removed, and a total of 121,891m² of land was released and unexploded ordnance (UXO) removed in the buffer zone.

In July 2016, UNMAS (The United Nations Mine Action Service) became an integral component of UNFICYP, providing dedicated expertise in mine action planning, coordination, and operational demining capacity.

The objectives of UNMAS operations are to reduce the threat of landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW), contribute to confidence-building measures, facilitate a return to normal living conditions, and ensure safer freedom of movement.

UNMAS also helps the Committee on Missing Persons to facilitate safe access to areas it conducts activities and technical guidance to UNFICYP for small arms ammunition storage.

According to UNFICYP, UNMAS assistance is focused on removing mines and ERW that create barriers between communities and threaten peace.

Each of the 47 suspected hazardous areas requires a survey to determine the need for clearance.

To prepare for future surveys and clearance, UNMAS conducts planning and coordination.

UNMAS conducts advocacy and outreach activities to raise awareness and promote a mine-free Cyprus and provides training in mine/ERW awareness for UNFICYP personnel to help increase force protection and the implementation of UNFICYP activities.

The last demining took place in 2017 in Denia, Nicosia district.

As of April 2019, 18 areas, nine in the Republic and nine in the occupied areas had been identified as suspected of being dangerous due to the presence of mines, which could be demined, as part of the Confidence Building Measure.

The International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action is April 4.