April 19, 2024

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UK funding to clear mines around the world will protect more than 50,000 people

Eight countries across Africa and Asia to be supported through £17 million in new funding to Mines Advisory Group (MAG) and The HALO Trust (HALO); Their work will support the clearance of explosives, as well as raising awareness of the danger of mines; Combined with programmes announced last year in Ukraine and Afghanistan, more than 50,000 people are expected to benefit from the programme.

The UK Government has today announced new funding for leading British organisations, the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) and The HALO Trust (HALO) to help clear mines and educate communities about the associated risks in eight countries – Angola, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Laos, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, and Zimbabwe.

It follows funding announced last year for projects in Ukraine and Afghanistan – supporting more than 50,000 people from programmes across the 10 countries.

MAG and The HALO Trust anticipate that almost 17 million square metres of land will be freed of mines in the 10 countries thanks to the UK funding. The release of land for agriculture, housing, and basic social services such as schools, hospitals, water, and sanitation will support and promote economic development within communities around the world, restore livelihoods in rural and marginalised areas, as well as strengthen local production and food security.

MAG and HALO will also reach over half a million people with more than 34,000 in-person explosive ordnance risk education sessions, which will significantly improve risk awareness and community safety across the countries.

Minister for Development and Africa, Andrew Mitchell, said: ‘Landmines are a nightmare – causing thousands of deaths and injuries each year. The UK remains committed in its determination to work towards a mine-free world and is delighted to award extra funding to MAG and The HALO Trust to continue their life-saving work. We want to help both organisations create safe and secure environments where communities live freely without fear of the deadly threat of landmines.’

Today’s announcement brings the total amount committed through multi-year contracts under the third iteration of the Government’s Global Mine Action Programme (GMAP) to £28 million. GMAP has been running since 2014 and has supported the clearance of hundreds of millions of square metres of land to date.

The funding announced today will allow work to continue in some of the world’s most heavily mined countries, such as Cambodia and Laos, as well as some of the poorest countries in the world such as South Sudan and Somalia until March 2025. It will also support a new country programme in Ethiopia, where HALO is currently the only active international mine operator.

Funding will also create new opportunities for women in countries like Angola, Cambodia and Laos through increased employment and career development in demining, with ongoing investment in staff training.

Darren Cormack, CEO of MAG, said: ‘We are immensely grateful for the funding and long-standing support from the UK Government and are delighted to partner with The HALO Trust to continue our work in some of the world’s most mine-affected countries. Whilst much remains to be done in many active conflict environments in which we are working, this funding will provide vital assistance to many countries that are tackling the legacy of conflict, which continues to claim lives long after the fighting is over. This is an important step towards a mine-free world.’

James Cowan, CEO of The HALO Trust, said: ‘This funding announcement coincides with The HALO Trust celebrating the clearance of 5,000 minefields in Cambodia, 1,000 minefields in Angola and a staggering 2 million landmines worldwide. None of these milestones would have been possible without the support of our donors. The sustained commitment of the UK government and generosity of the British taxpayer have played a vital role.We will continue our lifesaving work alongside MAG and other partners in the sector until the last mine is gone and last munition defused.’

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