UN, UK to donate 50000 Euro lifeline to Cyprus mines project
The project has cleared more than six million square metres of landmines since November, 2004.
Britain threw a financial lifeline on Thursday to a United Nations mine clearing programme in both sides, Turkish and Greek Cyprus, at risk of closure from a lack of funds.
The 50,000 euro ($64,880) donation from Britain to the United Nations Mine Action Centre (MAC) in Cyprus will allow the programme to keep operating in February and March, a statement by the British Foreign Office said.
U.N. officials in Cyprus had expressed fears work to clear mines from a buffer zone separating the island's Turkish and Greek Cypriots could be suspended this month.
"The U.N. Mine Action Centre has been a highly successful confidence building measure, helping to build trust between the communities," Britain's Minister for Europe Caroline Flint said.
The project has cleared more than six million square metres of landmines since November, 2004. The European Union has donated 9 million euros -- more than any other donor -- but that money is now almost depleted.
"This donation comes at a critical moment, as the MAC urgently needs more funds to continue its essential work beyond January," said Taye-Brook Zerihoun, special representative of the U.N. Secretary-general in Cyprus.
Several areas of the 180 km-long (110-mile) U.N. supervised line splitting Cyprus are mined. There were three incidents in December, two involving civilians attempting to cross from one side of the island to the other.
About 80 percent of the clearing project, scheduled to run to the end of 2010, has been completed. Administrators need 5 million euros to completely clear mines from the buffer zone.
Reuters Last Mod: 22 Ocak 2009, 18:12