Towards a mine-free Cyprus
Mine action is critical for an effective humanitarian response in conflict and post-conflict situations. This is a central message of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message on this year’s International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.
As it continues efforts towards a comprehensive settlement that would bring to an end decades of division, Cyprus is keen to rid itself of the threat of mines and unexploded remnants of the island’s conflict.
As part of its mandate to contribute to a return to normal conditions in Cyprus, the UN has undertaken significant demining work. Between 2004 and 2011, the Mine Action Centre cleared 27,000 mines – 18,000 of which were anti-personnel mines – from the buffer zone and released 11 sq. km. of land as being safe.
More recently, a team of 29 Cambodian deminers deployed by the United Nations spent six-months on assignment in Cyprus in 2015, clearing areas of the buffer zone around Mammari; the team also cleared 1,847 sq.m. around Lefka-Aplici and conducted a technical survey of Deryneia as part of confidence-building measures to open up new crossing points, as agreed by the leaders in May 2015.
The team was despatched from Lebanon through inter-mission cooperation with the UN Inte rim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), under the guidance of the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS).
The UN appreciates the support of the Kingdom of Cambodia and UNIFIL during these operations. The UN is also grateful to the Greek Cypriot leadership for providing UNMAS with records of 28 minefields laid in the north in 1974, and to the Turkish Cypriot leadership for providing mine clearing teams with access to the sites.
UNFICYP continues to evaluate options for the next steps in achieving a mine free Cyprus.