Mr Roman Turšič
T: +386 1 4796 594
Cyprus has been divided geographically and politically by a heavily mined, 180km-long buffer zone since 1974 when Turkish Armed Forces occupied the north of the island. Minefields were laid within and outside the UN buffer zone by both the Greek Cypriot National Guard and Turkish Armed Forces. The exact extent of residual mine contamination is not known. The UN has estimated that some 5 sq. kilometers of land on the island is contaminated with mines and other ordnance.
As of 2011, four minefields remained in the buffer zone awaiting clearance. The UN was closing its clearance operations in 2011 as it did not “currently have any agreements in place with either side for the clearance of any further minefields”.
Cyprus reported in June 2011 that, thanks to the efforts of the UN, only one mined area remained in the buffer zone following release of some 10km2 of land and the destruction of almost 27,000 mines from 78 mined areas. The UN believes, however, that three mined areas around Dali are inside the buffer zone, a claim contested by Cyprus. Cyprus planned, however, to complete clearance of the three areas by July 2013, its Article 5 deadline.
The extent of contamination in areas controlled by the Turkish Armed Forces is not known, although Cyprus claimed in its Article 5 deadline extension request that alternatively 20 or 21 minefields laid by Turkish Forces in the north of the island have not yet been cleared of antipersonnel mines.
There is believed to be only limited ERW contamination in the buffer zone and in July 2010, Cyprus reported that no ERW remained on territory it controls. However, an explosion at an ammunition storage area at a naval base at Zygi in southern Cyprus in July 2011 raised fears of new contamination. There is no evidence of any problem of cluster munition remnants on Cyprus.
One of the major challenges to the fulfillment of Cyprus’s obligations under Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty is the failure by Turkey to clear or ensure the clearance of contamination in the northern areas of the island it effectively controls. The UN Security Council has called on all parties to facilitate clearance of remaining mined areas, most recently in December 2011.
What we do
The Cyprus Mine Action programme has been underway since 2004 and is being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in conjunction with UNOPS and in close coordination with UN peacekeepers. In 2004 ITF supported setting up an UN Mine Action Office (UNMAO) and procurement of detectors and personal protective equipment for deminers subsequently commissioned by the MACC (UNDP) to do the clearance.