Nearly two decades after Princess Diana’s untimely death, her work to clear the world of landmines has reached a major breakthrough.
Mozambique, a country that had been riddled with landmines following 15 years of horrific civil war, was declared mine free this week – according to Halo Trust, the nonprofit set up to assist the country in removing the mines.
The announcement served as testimony to the incredible legacy left by Princess Diana and her commitment to seeing the world freed of such atrocities.
In 1997, shortly before her death, Diana travelled to Angola to bring awareness to an international issue that so often went unreported and untreated.
During her time there she witnessed the removal of over 5000 mines, according to a CNN report. After witnessing the overwhelmingly positive impact of Halo’s organisation, Diana advocated for the same treatment in Bosnia.
She was overcome with a deep sense of responsibility, working with Halo to ensure that the victims who had lost their limbs, or lives, due to land mines wouldn’t have to suffer in vain – or see the same fate inflicted on others.
“Probably her greatest legacy has been the massive increase in interest she has generated in this subject, which will hopefully result in funding and adequate resources being devoted to the whole issue,” Paul Heslop, Halo Trust’s then-director, told CNN.
Since that statement, Halo Trust has cleared over 171,000 mines in Mozambique, a country which was considered one of the most vastly mined country’s in the world.
For years after the civil war ended, when landmines were used as a weapon, hundreds of people were dying each and every year.
Now that Mozambique has been labelled mine free, Halo Trust has begun to initiate programs that assist citizens to cultivate crops and graze livestock – on land that would have otherwise been considered too dangerous.
Now Diana’s son, Prince Harry, is continuing on where his mother left off, spending the past few years working closely with Halo Trust to ensure that their goals were being met with great urgency.
In 2013, he became a patron of the organisation’s 25th anniversary appeal after visiting Angola and expressing frustration over slow progress.
“[The prince] is irritated about the countries that supplied these landmines are not actually putting in any funds to clear them 25 years later,” Guy Willoughby, Halo’s chief executive told Sky News. “He has got quite a bee in his bonnet about that, and that is good.”
Alberto Augusto, Director of the Mozambique Institute for Demining said:
‘This is a proud day for Mozambique. Ridding our country of landmines was tremendously difficult, but the bravery and determination of our demining teams proves to the world that it is possible for countries to become mine free. We are truly grateful to those who risked their lives in order to protect those of our children and future Mozambicans.’