The Falkland Islands have been cleared of almost all landmines, it has been announced, 38 years after the end of the war in which the British military retook the territory by force from Argentine troops.
Since 2009, tens of thousands of mines and bombs have been removed as part of a UK-funded program, a task carried out by a team of specialist deminers, many of them from Zimbabwe.
Residents plan to mark the moment this weekend with a detonation of the final landmine, along with games of cricket and soccer on reopened beaches.
“This is a huge achievement for the islands and we must pay tribute to the brilliant team of deminers,” British Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for European Neighbourhood and the Americas Wendy Morton said.
The removal of the mines laid during the conflict with Argentina means that the UK has met its obligations under the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention.
Britain believes that there are no anti-personnel mines in its territories around the world.
The 1982 conflict followed an invasion by Argentina to assert territorial claims over the islands, which it calls the Malvinas.
Then-British prime minister Margaret Thatcher ordered a counterinvasion, in which 649 Argentinian military personnel and 255 British troops were killed, as well as three Falklands residents.
A group of about 100 Zimbabwean contractors, who were brought in to lend their expertise to the mine-clearing operation, have been working on the island for about a decade and have managed to clear the explosives three years ahead of schedule.
The British government plans to assist in removing mines in other countries around the world, including Zimbabwe, as part of a ￡36 million (US$47.7 million) funding program.
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