Today Preet Kaur Gill MP has called on Government to reverse its decision to cut funding by 75% for the removal of land mines and unexploded bombs.
The Government recently announced that funding which would see deadly explosive devices cleared, has been reduced from £100 million to just £25 million over three years.
People in South Sudan, Zimbabwe, Myanmar, Iraq, Lebanon and Vietnam will no longer receive any UK support for their efforts to rid communities of the peril of landmines and other remnants of war. This follows the efforts of many overseas activists and volunteers who supported UK’s efforts to demine the British overseas territory of the Falkland Islands, over the last two years.
Landmines and unexploded bombs affect 60 million people in the world today, with 15 people killed or injured every day. UK aid for mine clearance means children can go back to school safely, communities can grow crops on their land, and families can return to their homes.
Preet Kaur Gill, MP for Edgbaston in Birmingham said, “Not only will this risk lives and have a devastating impact to millions of people around the world, but it will do further damage to the UK’s global reputation. We have stood shoulder to shoulder with our friends and allies across the world to ensure that British territories are declared mine free. Now, when the time has come to repay the favour, this Government has made the cowardly decision to back away.”
This catastrophic decision has been met with outrage by those on both sides of the political aisle as well as charities throughout the sector.
The British charity the Halo Trust, which was very publicly supported by Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997, as she walked through a minefield in Angola, said the decision was “staggering” and would lead to a huge decline of its operations in countries such as Zimbabwe and Myanmar.
Retired Major General James Cowan, former commander of British troops in Afghanistan and now Halo’s CEO, said the reduction in the funding had come as a “huge shock”.
“This is going to be devastating to our work around the world. We are operating now without any British money in Afghanistan and yet we are a British charity. It is a great British success story and yet it is not being funded by the British.”
Darren Cormack, CEO of the Mines Advisory Group (MAG), said the funding reduction represented a “catastrophic collapse in support that will harm the lives of vulnerable people across the world and do immeasurable harm to Britain’s global standing”.