British actor Daniel Craig is in Cyprus in his role as UN Global Advocate for the Elimination of Mines and Explosive Hazards.
Better known for his role as James Bond, this is the first time he has undertaken this duty since he was appointed as an advocate.
“I very much hope that I will be the first and last Global Advocate to see landmines on this beautiful island,” he said.
Craig who is paying a two day visit to the island went to see an active minefield where he was briefed by Lieutenant Sovannara Leang who heads up a team of twenty Cambodian UN peacekeepers from Lebanon, deployed with UNFICYP as part of an inter-mission cooperation agreement.
The actor saw first-hand the difficult and dangerous work involved in manual demining and disposal of ordinance by the UN peacekeepers.
Craig who filmed in Cambodia years ago, was aware of the problems of widespread mines there said:
“Witnessing the potential impact that mines can have on people and communities, years after the end of conflict, brings home the humanitarian importance of the UN’s de-mining efforts in Cyprus. For these peacekeepers to take their expertise, gleaned over the last forty years in Cambodia, and make it available to the people of Cyprus, half-way around the world, is truly inspiring”.
He also visited an area recently cleared of mines in the UN buffer zone and the UN protected area in Nicosia where he has briefed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and Head of Mission, Ms. Lisa Buttenheim and UNFICYP’s Force Commander, Maj. Gen. Kristen Lund.
Over 27,000 landmines have been removed from the UN buffer zone in Cyprus in the last decade by United Nations de-miners. The cleared area can now be put to productive use.
Today it is estimated that thousands of landmines still remain in Cyprus and large areas of land could still be contaminated by mines and unexploded ordinance.