The final landmines on the Falkland Islands have been removed, United Kingdom officials announced this week, almost 40 years after they were laid during a conflict between the country and Argentina.
The U.K.’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office confirmed in a Tuesday statement that a program “which started in 2009 has completed its dangerous mission to de-mine the islands in the South Atlantic three years ahead of schedule.”
Argentina invaded the islands, which it claims, in 1982. The U.K. sent forces to retake the Falklands in a 10-week war that saw over 600 Argentine fatalities and over 250 British fatalities.
“This is a huge achievement for the Islands and we must pay tribute to the brilliant team of deminers who put their lives at risk day to day removing and destroying landmines to make the Falklands safe,” said Wendy Morton, U.K. minister with responsibility for the Falklands, said on Tuesday.
The U.K. office said in the Tuesday statement that “Islanders” will commemorate the removal “with the detonation of the final mine and the cutting down of fences which will finally reopen their access to beaches.”
The statement said the demining team is from Zimbabwe, with staff from British companies.
The U.K. office said it has now “met its obligations set by the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention.” It added that the removal of the mines in the Falkland Islands “means there are no anti-personnel mines on British soil anywhere.”