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Cyprus: De-mining

Volume 486: debated on Thursday 22 January 2009

The UK is committed to supporting the settlement negotiations ongoing in Cyprus aimed at reunifying the island. The current negotiations offer the best chance there has ever been at finding a solution to the Cyprus problem.

The UK Government believe the key work done by UN development programme staff in removing land mines in the buffer zone in Cyprus is important in supporting the settlement negotiations. The work has been a highly successful confidence building measure and was vital in enabling the Ledra street crossing point to open.

I expressed my concern about the shortfall in funding for the Mine Action Centre in 2009 during the House of Commons Adjournment debate on Cyprus on 15 January 2009, Official Report, column 454 and underlined my belief that its important work should continue. Therefore I am today announcing a UK donation of €50,000 to the UN Mine Action Centre in Cyprus.

The work to remove landmines in the buffer zone has been largely funded by the EU to the sum of €9 million along with donations from Slovenia, Canada and Hungary. The UK donation of €50,000 will cover the running costs of the Mine Action Centre for February and March while the longer-term, sustainable funding is secured to enable this vital work to continue.

I am delighted that we have been able to lend financial support at a critical time to such a high profile confidence building measure with a proven track record of success. I look forward to seeing the centre’s work at first hand during my next visit to the island in February.