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Prince Harry calls for renewed effort to eradicate landmines

Nearly 30 countries have been declared mine-free in the past 20 years.

Prince Harry has called on nations to redouble their efforts to eradicate landmines as a tribute to the maimed children his mother said would not be forgotten.

Diana, Princess of Wales famously walked through a cleared landmine in Angola to highlight the problem the military munitions cause and Harry spoke of her efforts in a video message screened at an international conference on the issue.

The prince told delegates from across the globe meeting in Vienna that during her visit to Africa 20 years ago, “she witnessed first hand the pain and suffering of those whose lives and limbs had been destroyed by landmines.”

He added: “As she comforted children waiting patiently for their prosthetic legs, parliaments, non-government organisations and campaigners around the world came together to find a way to stop the killing and maiming for good”

Diana never saw her work to help outlaw landmines come to fruition as she died in a Paris car crash in August 1997 before the international treaty to ban the military weapons was signed at the end of that year.

Signatories of what is informally known as the Ottawa Treaty meet regularly to discuss issues around the implementation of the ban and Harry’s video was broadcast at their latest gathering being held in Vienna.

Nearly 30 countries have been declared mine-free in the past 20 years but more than 60 million people are estimated to still live with the daily fear of unexploded munitions.

In 2014 the Ottawa treaty signatories agreed to complete clearance of all anti-personnel landmines by 2025 and Harry is supporting a campaign by leading landmine charities, the Halo Trust and Mines Advisory Group (MAG), to make the commitment a reality.

Diana, Princess of Wales, tours a minefield in Angola in January 1997 ( John Stillwell/PA)

In his pre-recorded message Harry ended by saying: “My mother also visited Bosnia 20 years ago, where she promised two young boys coming to terms with life-changing injuries that they would never be forgotten. These young boys are now men and it falls to me and all of us to uphold her promise.

“So on behalf of them and the children she met in Angola, let us recommit today to the Maputo deadline of 2025. Let us not meet again in another 10 years and hear that a new generation of children face being killed or maimed through innocent play.”

The Halo Trust and MAG have jointly published a report – State of Play: The Landmine Free 2025 Commitment – which looks at what needs to change to clear the remaining landmines in four key countries – Angola, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe – before the deadline.

The report stated: “Governments and donors attending the conference in Vienna should leave confident that the 2025 goal is still possible, but that it will not implement itself.

“Like all conventions, the Ottawa Treaty needs political will, determination and continued support to succeed.

“The completion of clearance in Algeria and Mozambique and Sri Lanka’s recent accession are notable successes and clear examples of commitment to implementation.

“A change in course and tempo is needed in the next eight years to make a landmine free 2025 a reality.

“In 2016, states gave an additional $85.5 million (£64 million) to mine action and just this year the UK’s Department for International Development announced £100 million for landmine clearance.

“But where money is spent matters as much as the scale of assistance.”

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