The Falkland Islands have been cleared of deadly landmines laid during the 1982 conflict and will be celebrating the occasion with two major events on Saturday, November 14. The legacy of the war with the occupying Argentine forces had meant that large areas of the Islands, for 38 years, were previously off-limits.
Islanders will mark the moment with the ceremonial detonation of the final mine and will play games of cricket and football on the reopened beaches.
The official program marks that the Gypsy Cove/Yorke Bay, (a beach close to Stanley) event gets underway at 1:30pm with speeches from Alex Mitham, Deputy Governor, lawmaker MLA Leona Roberts and Guy Marot on behalf of the Falkland Islands Demining Program.
At 1:50pm the road will be closed in preparation for the final detonation. At 2:00pm the first raffle winner will set off the final detonation and at 2:05pm the second raffle winner will cut the fence to reopen the beach to the public.
Once the fence is cut, the community will be free to enjoy the final area of the Falkland Islands to be declared mine-free. A cricket match and football game are planned to take place on the beach after the opening ceremony, weather permitting.
The Deputy Harbor-master has invited local mariners to form a flotilla, at a safe distance (at least 1,000m) from the demolition area, for those who wish to view proceedings from offshore.
The Falklands' government reminds that speaking of safety measures, be mindful of the fact that there will be penguins present who will not be used to sharing their beach with the public. Wardens will also be present on site to help ensure that people keep a proper distance away from the penguins.
In the evening residents can attend the Town Hall event. This celebratory event is open to all adults and will begin at 7pm.
Foreign Office minister Wendy Morton sent her congratulations, This is a huge achievement for the Islands and we must pay tribute to the brilliant team of deminers who put their lives at risk day to day removing and destroying landmines to make the Falklands safe.
The UK-funded program, carried out by a demining team from Zimbabwe, began in 2009 and has finished its dangerous mission in the South Atlantic three years ahead of schedule. The mines' removal now means the UK has met its obligations set by the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention.
Ms Morton continued: Our commitment to ridding the world of fatal landmines does not end with our territories being mine-free. A further £36m of UK funding will allow demining projects across the world to continue, protecting innocent civilian lives.
In effect UK will help to remove mines in Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Iraq, Laos, Lebanon, Myanmar, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Yemen, and Zimbabwe, as part of a £36m program.
On 2 April 1982, Argentine forces invaded the Falkland Islands and assumed military control, invading South Georgia Island the following day. UK launched Operation Corporate – tasked with regaining the British Overseas territory in the South Atlantic, which was completed on 14 June, 1982, or Liberation Day, the most important date in the Falklands' calendar.