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28 September, 2023
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UN report reveals 47 mine-contaminated areas in Cyprus

UNFICYP data shows over 1.7 Million square meters of land at risk

Source: CNA

According to data from UNFICYP, 47 suspected hazardous areas in Cyprus could be contaminated with mines and/or explosive remnants of war (ERW), covering roughly 1.7 million square meters of land. A factsheet from UNFICYP, updated in October 2018, shows that since August 2016, 199,783m² of land in the occupied areas have been cleared of mines to build confidence and facilitate agricultural and livelihood activities. Additionally, seven anti-tank mines and six mortars have been destroyed and 121,891m² of land have been released from unexploded ordnance (UXO) in the buffer zone, allowing safe operations for the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), confidence-building measures, and agricultural activities.

In July 2016, UNMAS (The United Nations Mine Action Service) became an essential component of UNFICYP, providing specialized expertise in mine action planning and coordination, operational demining capacity, quality assurance oversight of United Nations demining operations, and data management of mine action information.

The goals 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 for UNFICYP, UN partners, and communities. UNMAS also assists the Committee on Missing Persons to enable safe access to areas it conducts activities and technical guidance to UNFICYP for small arms ammunition storage.

According to UNFICYP, UNMAS assistance focuses on the removal of mines and ERW that create barriers between communities and threaten peace. UNMAS operations contribute to confidence-building measures and enable progress toward the implementation of a final settlement agreement.

UNMAS conducts planning and coordination to prepare for future surveys and clearance of the 47 suspected hazardous areas. Data analysis and management of information on minefields and suspected hazardous areas are also conducted, and assessments are prepared to ensure safe land clearance for communities as soon as access is authorized by the sides. UNMAS also conducts advocacy and outreach activities, provides training in mine/ERW awareness for UNFICYP personnel, supports planning and coordination of UN activities, and implements the establishment or maintenance of minefield marking, as needed.

UNMAS Cyprus is funded by the United Nations peacekeeping assessed budget for UNFICYP. The latest funding for the 2018-19 fiscal year ending 30 June 2019 covers technical capacity for planning and coordination awareness training for UNFICYP personnel, advocacy activities, and data management of mine action information.

As of April 2019, eighteen areas, nine in the Republic of Cyprus and nine in the occupied areas had been identified as suspected of being dangerous due to the presence of mines, and which could be demined, as part of the Confidence Building Measure. The last demining took place in 2017 in the area of Denia, Nicosia district.

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

Cyprus  |  UN

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