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Turkey removing 80,000 landmines from its border with Iran

i24NEWS - AFP

clock 2 min read

A Turkish national flag flies during a ceremony in the northern part of Nicosia, the capital of the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on October 19, 2020.
BIROL BEBEK / AFPA Turkish national flag flies during a ceremony in the northern part of Nicosia, the capital of the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on October 19, 2020.

It is one of the largest ongoing demining operations in the world

Turkey began clearing more than 80,000 anti-personnel mines on its border with Iran, one of the largest ongoing demining operations in the world, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) said on Wednesday.

The project provides for the clean-up of anti-personnel mines placed "on the eastern border of Turkey between 1953 and 1996 to prevent illegal crossings and smuggling, as well as to ensure their security," said Faik Uyanik, director of communications for UNDP in Turkey.

In the 1990s, the Turkish army made extensive use of anti-personnel mines as part of its fight against the Kurdish separatist group, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The European Union released $21.5 million to finance the third phase of the project, initiated in 2016.

"A territory of 4.7 million m2 (50.5 million square feet) will thus be secured for the civilian population and the forces responsible for border control," Uyanik said. 

A signatory since 2004 of the Ottawa Treaty banning the use of anti-personnel mines, Turkey has agreed to phase out such devices and establish another border surveillance system. 

"Landmines are unanimously condemned as the most inhumane tool of border control," UNDP representative in Turkey, Louisa Vinton, said in a statement.

Landmines are notoriously indiscriminate in who they target and are difficult to remove, even years after the conflict in which they were used has ended.

Some nations have begun examining the use of non-persistent landmines to avoid this problem.