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Thursday, August 26, 1999 Published at 08:39 GMT 09:39 UK


UK 'failing' on landmines pledge

Unexploded cluster bombs kill every day in Kosovo

The government has been accused of failing to live up to its promises to lead the international fight against landmines.

BBC's Guto Harri: "The report urges the government to triple the amount it spends on clearing mines across the world"
A coalition of more than 50 charities says the government is not doing enough to rid the world of a "global mess".

The UK Working Group on Landmines also says that unexploded cluster bombs dropped by Nato planes over Kosovo are still killing refugees as they return to their homes.

Richard Lloyd, author of the working group's report, said: "Landmines kill and maim thousands of people, many of them children, in more than 50 countries and the growing number of victims are too easily forgotten in the countries where many of these deadly devices were originally made.

[ image: Diana was high profile campaigner against landmines]
Diana was high profile campaigner against landmines
"We believe in the principle that the polluter should pay.

"Although the government leads the way in ensuring that the voluntary resources reach effective mine clearance programmes, the proportion of the UK's wealth going on vital mine action work still trails far behind that committed by other countries."

The group is funded by the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. The princess was a high profile campaigner against landmines.

Kosovo cluster bomb menace

Prior to last year, the UK was the world's 11th-biggest manufacturer of mines, states the group's report.

[ image: A deadly legacy of conflict]
A deadly legacy of conflict
Mr Lloyd added: "The UK is the world's fifth-largest economy and has been one of the world's biggest manufacturers and exporters of landmines.

"But it hasn't really done enough to help clear up the global mess."

The report also states that 40% of daily deaths in Kosovo are caused by unexploded cluster bombs, dropped in the Nato bombing campaign.

It urges the government to triple the amount it spends on clearing landmines across the world, move US mines from stores in the UK and close a loophole allowing British personnel to help foreign powers lay landmines.

Foreign Office minister Geoff Hoon: "We take our responsibilities seriously"
But the government's record was defended by Foreign Office minister Geoff Hoon, who is travelling to Kosovo on Thursday.

He said the UK had doubled the amount it was spending on mine clearance from £5m in 1997 to £10m by 2000.

"Certainly on the ground in Kosovo we are deploying large numbers of personnel to help remove these very dangerous unexploded weapons, and we take our responsibilities very seriously."

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