Harry backs £47m landmine clearance scheme in Angola
The Duke of Sussex’s mother Diana, Princess of Wales, famously walked along the edge of a minefield in the African country months before she died.
The Duke of Sussex has given his backing to a £47 million landmine clearing initiative to help rid Angola of the deadly military munitions – a cause championed by Diana, Princess of Wales.
Harry said Angola’s remaining wilderness was “an asset that should be protected, celebrated and benefited by its people” as the south-west African country’s environment minister Paula Coelho pledged 60 million dollars (£47 million) to fund the work of landmine clearing organisation the Halo Trust.
Speaking at London’s Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, after Ms Coelho made her financial commitment, the duke said: “This unique ecosystem is one of the great wildlife refuges of the world – enriching its biodiversity for all of humanity.
“My hope is that, through this collaboration, minefields can be cleared, land can be protected, wildlife can be free to return to where they once roamed, and Angolans can reap the rewards by co-existing with the one constant that will draw people in from all over the world – the extraordinary setting that they call home.”
'I first visited Chatham House in June 2017 to take part in a scenario exercise… that exercise showed me the importance of land mine clearance within a humanitarian emergency, because - let’s not forget - land mines are a humanitarian issue and not a political one.’ - #CHAfrica pic.twitter.com/bwgXAhq2gy— Chatham House (@ChathamHouse) June 17, 2019
The funds will be used to clear 153 minefields in a huge conservation region of Angola, a savannah area that is home to vital waterways that flow into the Okavango Delta, in nearby Botswana, a Unesco World Heritage site.
In 2013, Harry followed in the footsteps of his mother when he visited Angola with the Halo Trust to meet victims of the munitions and observe work to remove the ordnance.
Just months before she died in a car crash in 1997, Diana, wearing a protective visor and vest, walked through an Angolan minefield cleared by the Halo Trust.
Speaking about his visit to Angola, Harry added: “In Cuando Cubango, in the far south-east of what is a vast, beautiful country, I saw a struggling community in a deserted landscape unable to make use of the land.”
He highlighted the potential to “turn this land into a sustainable source for its people”.
Hon Paula Coelho begins the Call to Action at the event.— Chatham House Africa (@AfricaProg) June 17, 2019
“On behalf of the Republic of Angola I would like to announce that his excellency the President has earmarked 60 million dollars towards demining efforts” #CHAfrica pic.twitter.com/VSgITRnkqX
The duke added: “In fact I was told just the other day of the positive transformation in Huambo since my mother walked that minefield all those years ago.
“What is less well known is the impact landmines can have on conservation and wildlife, and therefore the economy.”
Diana spoke out against the sale and use of landmines and famously called for an international ban on the devices during her trip to Angola in 1997, which led to then junior defence minister Earl Howe branding her “ill-informed” and a “loose cannon that Her Majesty’s Government did not need”.
Harry commented about his first visit to Chatham House in June 2017 to take part in a scenario-planning exercise.
He told delegates attending the landmine conference: “That exercise showed me the importance of landmine clearance within a humanitarian emergency because, let’s not forget, land mines are a humanitarian issue, not a political one.”
Tory leadership candidate and International Development Secretary Rory Stewart was among the guests as in 2017 his department pledged a £100 million aid package over three years to help rid the world of landmines.
Angola’s £47 million investment in demining is over five years and will fund work in Cuando Cubango province inside the Mavinga and Luengue-Luiana National Parks to clear the munitions left over from the country’s civil war.
Angola’s environment minister said: “Angola has committed to remove landmines from the parks so that wildlife can be conserved and so that economic development can thrive using the best models of sustainable tourism.”
The Halo Trust, which has cleared 840 minefields since it began working in Angola in 1994, is hoping governments, organisations and individuals will match Angola’s £47 million to clear the remaining minefields outside the parks.