Harry backs £47m landmine clearance scheme in Angola

The Duke of Sussex has given his backing to a £47 million landmine clearing initiative to help rid Angola of the deadly military munitions – a cause championed by Diana, Princess of Wales.

Harry said Angola’s remaining wilderness was “an asset that should be protected, celebrated and benefited by its people” as the south-west African country’s environment minister Paula Coelho pledged 60 million dollars (£47 million) to fund the work of landmine clearing organisation the Halo Trust.

Speaking at London’s Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, after Ms Coelho made her financial commitment, the duke said: “This unique ecosystem is one of the great wildlife refuges of the world – enriching its biodiversity for all of humanity.

“My hope is that through this collaboration, minefields can be cleared, land can be protected, wildlife can be free to return to where they once roamed, and Angolans can reap the rewards by co-existing with the one constant that will draw people in from all over the world – the extraordinary setting that they call home.”

The funds will be used to clear 153 minefields in a huge conservation region of Angola, a savannah area that is home to vital waterways that flow into the Okavango Delta, in nearby Botswana, a Unesco World Heritage site.

Diana
The late Princess of Wales famously walked through a cleared minefield in Angola, just months before she died (John Stillwell/PA)

In 2013, Harry followed in the footsteps of his mother when he visited Angola with the Halo Trust to meet victims of the munitions and observe work to remove the ordinance.

Just months before she died in a car crash in 1997, Diana, wearing a protective visor and vest, walked through an Angolan minefield cleared by the Halo Trust.

Hon Paula Coelho begins the Call to Action at the event.

“On behalf of the Republic of Angola I would like to announce that his excellency the President has earmarked 60 million dollars towards demining efforts” #CHAfricapic.twitter.com/VSgITRnkqX

— Chatham House Africa (@AfricaProg) June 17, 2019

Speaking about his visit to Angola, Harry added: “In Cuando Cubango, in the far south-east of what is a vast, beautiful country, I saw a struggling community in a deserted landscape unable to make use of the land.”

He highlighted the potential to “turn this land into a sustainable source for its people”.

The duke added: “In fact I was told just the other day of the positive transformation in Huambo since my mother walked that minefield all those years ago.

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

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