As Mercopress have reported in a series of articles over the past eight years, the Falkland Islands are slowly being cleared of the landmines laid by Argentine forces during the 1982 war. Last week this process reached a key milestone when Goose Green settlement, the site of a key battle in late May 1982, was announced as being mine-free.
The Falkland Islands government has issued a Direction banning flying small unmanned aircraft over minefields. Contraveners can be liable on summary conviction to a fine of up to £ 2.500.
Falkland Islands demining and ground clearance operations which this season took off in September are advancing rapidly and controlled explosions of ordnance has been announced for later this week. Thousands of antipersonnel and anti tank mines in marked perimeters remain the Falklands, a legacy of the retreating Argentine forces which invaded the Islands 33 years ago in 1982.
Falkland Islands de-mining and ground clearance work has got off to a flying start despite the cold and snowy weather of late, Program Manager Guy Marot confirmed on Thursday to the Penguin News.
A popular recreation area that has been out of bounds for over thirty three years for the people of the Falkland Islands, Yorke Bay, only a few miles away from the capital Stanley, because of the mines laid by the invading Argentine forces in 1982, could in a near future be cleared and again open to the public.
The Falkland Islands program to clear mines planted by the invading Argentine forces in 1982, is scheduled to take a break at the end of April, following a very successful task all along summer according to Guy Marot, Program Manager for the Falkland Islands Demining Program Office, as reported in the FIG's edition of February.
Four minefield clusters have been pinpointed as priority areas for the next clearance phase in the Falkland Islands. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Advisor for minefield issues Alistair Craib confirmed this week that Priority 1 is Minefield 59 on either sides of the MPA Road near Wall Mountain and Mount Harriet.
In a rare interview, the Argentine Colonel who was responsible for placing mines in the occupied Falkland Islands in 1982 as part of the defense strategy against the advancing British forces, admits that between 15.000 and 20.000 of antipersonnel and anti tank explosives were planted, but also claims some stretches of the Islands' coast already had mines which had been placed by the British.
The BACTEC team is now fully deployed in the Falkland Islands clearing three minefields: two in the vicinity of Mile Pond and Mullet creek and the third south of the water tanks on the Stanley to Darwin and Goose Green Road. The mine-clearance project for these areas should be over by the end of March.
Thirty years after the end of the South Atlantic conflict, the people of the Falkland Islands will be recovering an iconic leisure ground which remained banned for three decades because of the mines planted by the retreating Argentine forces that invaded the Islands 2 April 1982.