Prince Harry urges international community to help Angola clear landmines

The Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, has urged world governments to clear Angola of landmines, amplifying his late mother’s appeal.

Princess Diana made landmine removal a focus of her humanitarian work, and drew the world’s attention to the Angolan situation after visiting Cuando Cubango province in January 1997.

In a speech on Monday, Prince Harry reiterated the call to clear the southern African country of landmines, noting that the explosives do not only affect human lives, but also wildlife.

“I was told just the other day of the positive transformation in Huambo since my mother walked that minefield all those years ago,” the Duke of Sussex said.

“What is less well-known is the impact landmines can have on conservation and wildlife, and therefore the economy,” he added.

Angola remains a hotbed of explosives which were laid in post-independence civil war.

The situation has  left rural communities decimated, fearful and unable to make use of Angola’s natural gifts to produce food and income to thrive.

According to the United Nations, Angola is dogged by food insecurity. In 2018, there was a 2.5 million tonne shortfall in maize – and nearly a third of children are stunted largely as a result of poor nutrition.

The fear of landmines have rendered hundreds of thousands homeless in the southern African country, having been displaced during the civil war.

Some 88,000 people in the country are estimated to be living with disabilities as a result of landmine injuries.

The Mines Advisory Group (MAG) has been deployed in Angola for years to rid the country of the deadly explosives.

Over the last 10 years the organization has returned almost 10 million square metres of cleared land to Angolan communities and cleared roads and river banks.

In his speech on Monday, Prince Harry said there was “still a huge amount to do,” adding that reductions in funding for demining efforts in the region were “pretty shocking.”

He urged the international community not to “leave a job half-done,” adding: “There is an end in sight.”