Tue, Nov 16, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Anti-landmine official encouraged by Kinmen cleanup, but urges total ban

Staff writer, with CNA

Efforts to clear landmines on Kinmen are encouraging to the global anti-landmine movement, an International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) official said over the weekend.

However, the official said further legislation was needed to ensure the complete eradication of such munitions.

Kinmen was a frontline area in the 1950s and 1960s, when the Republic of China and the People’s Republic of China were at war with one another, and was the site of serious battles and heavy shelling.

Its strategic importance led to the construction of many -military facilities, including extensive minefields.

Today, the planning and implementation of the demining work on Kinmen is very thorough and specific, said Jacqueline Hansen, manager of the landmine monitor program for Geneva-based ICBL.

Hansen said she hoped to return to Kinmen as a tourist after the mines are fully removed from the coastal areas.

The military and contracted foreign mine-clearing companies have to date cleared 67 minefields covering about 1.82 million square meters, with 41,785 bombs and landmines removed, said Colonel Chao Chung-kun (趙祟崑), who is in charge of the demining operation.

The operation is scheduled to be completed in 2013, by which time the island will be entirely free of landmines, he said.

However, Taiwan still allows the military to use landmines, Hansen said, adding that she hoped the government would take action to implement a complete ban.

The Anti-Personnel Landmines Control Act (殺傷性地雷管制條例) forbids the manufacture of landmines and Taiwan is committed to demining, the military said in response to Hansen’s concerns.

Although the law does not ban the use of such explosive devices left over from the old days, the military supports the international anti-landmine campaign, it said.

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