On 15 January 1997, Diana, Princess of Wales, walked through a minefield recently cleared by The HALO Trust. The minefield was in Angola, a country then still in the grip of a terrible civil war.
Diana’s visit catapulted the landmine issue around the globe. Later that year, states came together and signed the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty – also known as the Ottawa Treaty - and pledged to put “an end to the suffering and casualties caused by anti-personnel mines”. Today it is one of the world’s most widely accepted treaties, with over 80 per cent of the world’s countries party to it. A declaration made in Maputo in 2014 committed party states to complete the task to the fullest extent possible by 2025.
Yet twenty years since Diana’s visit, explosive remnants of war are still causing devastation in Angola and elsewhere.
In October 2016, HALO Angola reported that two children had been killed and a further two suffered amputations after an encounter with unexploded ordnance, just a short distance from where Diana had walked. Between 2010 and 2011, funding for mine action in Angola fell by 68 per cent.
2017 is a huge opportunity for HALO and our partners to revitalise the international community’s commitment to rid the world of landmines. A series of events throughout the year will ensure that mine action remains in the public eye and HRH Prince Harry wants to join forces with the British mine action sector to lead the call for a LandmineFree 2025. The pinnacle of the mine action calendar is International Mine Awareness Day on 4 April. This year the day was marked with a special event co-organised by HALO and Mine Awareness Group (MAG) at Kensington Palace in London.
The Kensington Palace event was designed to revitalise UK, international and private donor support for reaching the 2025 deadline. The event starts a journey to fulfil the vision of Ottawa