South Scotland

The Halo Trust celebrates 'mine-free' Mozambique

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Media captionSuccess for Halo Trust as Mozambique declares itself officially "mine-free".

A Scottish land mine charity is marking the end of a 22-year campaign to clear Mozambique of land mines.

The country was one of the most mined in the world after a civil war but it is expected to declare itself officially "mine-free" on Thursday.

The Halo Trust, which is based in Thornhill, Dumfriesshire, has taken a lead role in the lengthy operation.

The charity said its personnel cleared more than 171,000 landmines - about 80% of the total destroyed in the country.

It is a major achievement and one which improves the safety of Mozambique's 26 million citizens, the charity said.

'Really brilliant'

Calvin Ruysen, the Halo Trust's regional director for southern Africa, said it will also allow the country to develop its infrastructure, access gas and coal, increase tourism and attract international investment.

He added: "Only recently I was out in Mozambique, visiting some areas that were cleared which consisted of a couple of bridges and viaducts that carry a railway.

"We could have cleared about 300 mines from around these few areas and now we can see the transformation.

"We can see farmers farming the land productively. We can see children playing safely and we can see workers now able to commute to work more safely.

"Further, and this is really brilliant, is that the manager of the railway line has talked about how the clearance enables his maintenance teams to upgrade the line and increase the amount of cargo they are able to transport, not only through Mozambique but across to Zimbabwe as well.

"So the impact, the effect, can be felt not only at the very local level but nationally, across whole regions."

Prince Harry spent two days with The Halo Trust in Mozambique in 2010.

His mother, Princess Diana, was famously pictured walking through a minefield when she visited the same charity in Angola.

Image copyright Halo Trust
Image caption Prince Harry met people who had been injured by landmines during his visit to the Tete province of Mozambique
Image copyright PA
Image caption Princess Diana walked through a landmine during a visit to Angola with the Halo Trust shortly before her death in 1997

Mr Ruysen said 1,600 Mozambican men and woman were employed by the trust to demine the country.

He added: "This clearance will be an example to other mine-affected countries that it is possible to be free of mines and that is extremely important."

He said the charity had worked successfully with the government of Mozambique and the international community, which funded the work.

"We can deliver these results in other mine affected countries with the right resources," he said.

Get live news updates from the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway throughout the day on our South of Scotland live page service.

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