THOUSANDS of people will be safe from the threat of landmines in Zimbabwe, thanks to fresh UK support for demining charity The HALO Trust.
UK aid will match public donations to the charity’s Zimbabwe appeal, International Development Secretary Alok Sharma announced today.
Zimbabwe is still one of the worst affected countries in the world as more than 75,000 people live near mines. Every day people cross dangerous land to reach schools, clinics and homes. Tragically more than 1,600 have lost their lives since the war in the region ended in the 1980s.
This is a widespread problem that is also felt in Angola. Last week the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, retraced his mother’s footsteps in Huambo, Angola, and saw that what was once a dangerous, landmine-littered field is now home to a thriving community.
UK aid, in partnership with demining charities, has helped clear 15 million square metres of landmines in Angola to make it safe again and educated more than 35,000 people about the dangers of mines.
The new UK aid support for The HALO Trust’s Breaking Boundaries appeal aims to repeat the successes of demining in Angola in Zimbabwe.
International Development Secretary Alok Sharma said: ‘Landmines are indiscriminate weapons of war that maim and kill innocent men, women and children. Their devastation lasts long after conflict has ended.
‘I am proud to announce that, through UK Aid Match, we will double generous donations from the British public to help rid Zimbabwe of these deadly explosives.
‘The UK is deeply committed to clearing landmines in Zimbabwe and across the world, so no one has to live in fear of one wrong step.’
James Cowan, HALO’s CEO, added: ‘The UK’s support to HALO has freed hundreds of thousands of people from the fear of landmines and helped them rebuild after conflict.
‘Now the British public can donate to the Breaking Boundaries appeal knowing that every pound they give will be doubled by the UK government. We will clear twice as many minefields and help twice as many people thanks to this new support.’
Clearing landmines is a painstaking process and so often this is done by hand. The UK Aid Match appeal will give communities access to the ‘mine muncher’, a pioneering innovative machine, developed by British company MMD in Derbyshire. This chews up tough ground and has the potential to dramatically speed up the process of clearing mines.
With donations from the British public and the Breaking Boundaries appeal, The HALO Trust hope to clear 105,600 square metres of land in Zimbabwe over 12-months, helping more than 3,000 people get access to safe land which is vital for producing food and creating jobs.