FALKLAND ISLANDS: LANDMINES AND ORDNANCE


Landmines and ordnance

Depending on the source, either about 18,000 or 25,000 land mines remain from the 1982 war. One source says that Argentina placed 18,000 landmines,The British Government stated that all but one of their anti-personnel mine were accounted for. The land mines are located in either 101 or 117 mine fields, that are dispersed over an area of 8 sq mi (12 km2) in the areas of Port Stanley, Port Howard, Fox Bay and Goose Green (these areas are now well marked). Information is available from the EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) Operation Centre in Stanley.

Care should still be taken as some beaches were mined, and there have been concerns the tides could have moved some mines. The same applies where mine fields are close to rivers. Care should be taken in case mines have been washed out of the marked area by flooding. There is also ordnance left over from the war. Between 1997 and 2002, 248 antipersonnel mines were destroyed in the Falklands, 16 were destroyed in 2003, one in 2005 and six antipersonnel mines were destroyed in 2006.

In February 2005, the charity Landmine Action proposed a Kyoto-style credit scheme, which would see a commitment by the British government to clear an equivalent area of mined land to that currently existing in the Falklands in more seriously mine-affected countries by March 2009. This proposal was supported by Falkland Islanders, for whom landmines do not pose a serious threat in everyday life. The British government has yet to declare its support or opposition to the idea.

In November 2008, Landmine Action opposed Britain's request for a ten year extension on the deadline for clearing the landmines. It accused the British Government of not demonstrating "any evidence of serious plans to complete, or even begin, this work" and stated "Allowing a well-resourced, technically capable State such as the United Kingdom to effectively ignore its responsibilities would set a dangerous and ethically unacceptable precedent."However, in 2008, the UK Government argued that in stark contrast to minefields elsewhere, "There have never been any civilian injuries in almost 26 years" in the Falklands.