The British government is considering ways of clearing about 20,000 mines left on the Falklands Islands after the war with Argentina in 1982 Baroness Crawley told the House of Lords.
Speaking on Tuesday for the government at Lords question time Lady Crawley said that negotiations with Argentina revealed that the mines clearance would be "challenging but technically possible". "Negotiations (with Argentina) have been detailed, complex and extensive", however "we have got to a place now were hopefully we will be looking very seriously at the next steps", she added. Tory peer Lord Howell said that 18.000 of the mines had been left by the Argentines but since the end of the war (1982) areas with land mines had been marked and fenced off, and had caused no civilian casualties. A UK-Argentine joint task group has been working and meeting regularly on the issue, including a de-mining pre feasibility report from the University of Cranfield which has a Department specialized in these types of explosives and a long international record on the field. The Cranfield report includes the situation in 117 minefields in the Falklands. UK and Argentine delegates have been meeting since 2001 when an agreement on the issue was reached and in the framework of the Ottawa Convention for mine clearance endorsed by both countries. Lady Crawley told Lords that a feasibility study had been completed in October last year and although Argentina had been involved in compiling it, "the country would not be involved in the clearance work". The process would be "expensive" although a budget had not yet been finalised, the study would be put in front of ministers shortly, she added. However last November the UN sponsored Landmine Monitor Report 2007: Toward a Mine-Free World, published by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, claimed that 14 countries are likely not to meet their mine clearance deadlines under the Ottawa Convention which entered into force in March 1999. Among the fourteen figures the United Kingdom for clearance of the Falkland Islands/Malvinas. Lord Howell of Guildford said of the 20,000 landmines scattered around the Falklands, 18,000 of them were put there by the Argentines "often by recruits who have no idea where they are now, or by remote devices". (BBC/MP).-