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UN solder killed in demining accident.

Byline: Stefanos Evripidou

A MEMBER of the Mine Action Centre Cyprus (MACC) was killed yesterday in a demining accident in the buffer zone, the group's first fatality in five years of work on the island.

The 39-year-old Femisberto Novele, a MACC member from Mozambique, died after an anti-tank mine exploded at approximately 8am yesterday in a minefield near Yeri, some 10 kilometres south-east of Nicosia.

The UN's Special Representative in Cyprus and head of UNFICYP, Taye-Brook Zerihoun, said he was saddened and shocked to learn of the accident. The death was a tragic reminder of the dangers landmines still pose in Cyprus, said Zerihoun. He conveyed condolences to the bereaving family on behalf of the United Nations team in Cyprus.

The MACC is a project of the United Nations Development Programme's Partnership for the Future, funded by the EU. It has removed and destroyed more than 14,000 mines since 2004, with the support of UNFICYP.

A total of 57 minefields have been cleared to date, covering more than 6.5 million square metres of land. The work of MACC has made it possible to open crossing points between the north and south of the island, including at Ledra Street in Nicosia, and to return land to farmers, Zerihoun has previously said.

"The job is difficult but it is possible", he said. Aa"Provided there is a concerted demonstration of political will and continued funding, we can rid the buffer zone of landmines by April 2011. The people of Cyprus deserve no less," he said at an event earlier this year.

According to AFP, nine people, including deminers and civilians, were injured by mines in the buffer zone last year.

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Date:Oct 29, 2009
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