Cyprus is contaminated by landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) as a result of inter-communal violence in 1963-64 and the events of 1974. During these events, minefields were laid in several locations on the island.
The precise scope of contamination from mines and ERW is unknown and further survey is needed to accurately define the problem. It is currently estimated that there are more than 7,000 mines remaining in the ground, affecting two million square meters of land. The contamination could impact plans for the implementation of a final settlement agreement and discourages economic activities in affected areas.
UNMAS provides technical assistance to the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) to support confidence building measures between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities and the Mission’s mandate to contribute to a return to normal conditions on the island.
In July 2016, UNMAS increased its capacity with the deployment of a dedicated clearance team that will clear five hazardous areas in the north of the island. In 2015, the Greek Cypriot leader, Mr. Anastasiades, transferred to the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Akinci, the coordinates of 28 minefields laid by the National Guard in 1974, as part of a package of confidence building measures. In July 2015, 25 of these locations were declared by the United Nations not to pose a threat, but three locations plus an additional two identified in the survey process were thought to require clearance. UNMAS is also assisting the Committee on Missing Persons to provide safe access to areas where they are conducting their activities.
The humanitarian demining team started its activities in August 2016 with clearance of ERW from a contaminated site where the Committee on Missing Persons required access in order to conduct its activities. The team successfully completed the task and has started clearance on the five hazardous areas that support confidence building measures between the two sides. The team will complete clearance of the five areas in late May and will continue its dedicated support to UNFICYP until 30 June 2017.
UNMAS Cyprus is funded entirely by the United Nations peacekeeping assessed budget for UNFICYP for the 2016/17 fiscal year ending 30 June 2017. The resources ensure UNMAS is fully funded and can continue to carry out activities without delay or disruption.
Updated: Janurary 2017