Prince Harry 'irritated' over landmine clearance efforts

 

Prince Harry travelled to see the clearance work championed by his late mother

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Prince Harry is "irritated" that some nations which provided landmines are not helping with the clearance effort, one of his charities has revealed.

The head of the Halo Trust was speaking after the prince travelled to Angola to see the charity's mine clearance work.

Prince Harry visited Cuito Cuanavale and met those benefiting from the work.

The charity was championed by his late mother Princess Diana and is the oldest organisation of its kind. The prince is patron of its 25th Anniversary Appeal.

In 2010 he met some of Halo's teams working in Mozambique.

Start Quote

As a soldier [Prince Harry] is seeing so many people of his generation, of his age losing limbs - and that has really brought a focus on it”

End Quote Guy Willoughby Halo Trust

Shortly before her death in 1997, Princess Diana was filmed visiting minefields that were being cleared by the trust in Angola, drawing the world's attention to the situation.

The town of Cuito Cuanavale in south-eastern Angola is believed to be the most densely mined town in Africa, following the country's bloody and protracted civil war.

In a statement issued by Kensington Palace, Prince Harry said he was keen to support the charity in any way he could.

The trip took place earlier this month and Prince Harry's spokesman announced at the time that he was in Angola.

But the Dumfriesshire-based Halo Trust said it had decided to delay providing further details until now because of the fact that it was taking place in a private capacity and the "complicated field logistics" involved.

Prince Harry in Angola with HALO Trust officials in August 2013 The Halo Trust says its teams have destroyed more than 21,000 mines in Angola since the end of the civil war

Its chief executive Guy Willoughby said: "He [the prince] is irritated about the countries that supplied these landmines are not actually putting in any funds to clear them 25 years later.

"He has got quite a bee in his bonnet about that, and that is good.

"The commitment shown by Prince Harry plays an invaluable role in helping us to raise awareness of Halo's work and mission.

"He is technically very competent but he's also very good with dealing with the people, the villagers, the de-miners and he understands the big issue, even the political issue.

"Wars may be over but many people are still unable to resume their normal lives, facing the threat of death or injury by landmines every day."

He told BBC News that being able to support the charity was "hugely important" to Prince Harry, not just because of the family connection.

"As a soldier he is seeing so many people of his generation, of his age losing limbs. And that has really brought a focus on it.

"I think it has brought a focus on it for a lot of the British population of seeing so many people in their 20s who are losing limbs."

Angola's civil war left an estimated 500,000 dead, displaced four million and destroyed much of the country's infrastructure.

Despite huge efforts since the war ended in 2002 to clear the explosives, the country remains one of the most heavily mined in the world.

The Halo Trust said it has destroyed more than 21,300 anti-personnel and anti-tank mines in Angola but thousands of residents have been killed or maimed.

Mr Willoughby said Halo was making "excellent progress" in Angola and the province of Huambo was now close to becoming mine-free, but there was still 19 years of clearance work to be done across the country as a whole.

 

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