South Scotland

Mine clearance funds announced at Thornhill-based charity

Priti Patel Image copyright Halo Trust
Image caption Priti Patel made the announcement during a visit to the Halo Trust near Thornhill

An £8.1m funding extension to mine clearance work has been announced during a visit to the south of Scotland-based Halo Trust.

International Development Secretary Priti Patel praised the work carried out by the charity while at its headquarters near Thornhill.

The funding will go towards the current Global Mine Action Programme.

It is being delivered by the trust, the Manchester-based Mines Advisory Group and Norwegian People's Aid.

It will help to make 15 million square metres of land safe again and enable 15,000 community visits to educate people - especially children - on the dangers of living with landmines.

During her visit, Ms Patel met local businesses that contribute to Britain's humanitarian work overseas, including Penman Engineering which makes armoured vehicles, Soltyre, bespoke tyre makers for rough terrain and ScotJCB, which makes heavy-duty machinery.

Image copyright The Halo Trust
Image caption The Halo Trust has destroyed more than 1.6 million landmines and nearly 12 million unexploded ordnance items

She said: "Landmines are indiscriminate weapons of war that maim and kill innocent children every day.

"Scottish organisations like Halo Trust are at the forefront of the UK's efforts, bringing British ingenuity, determination and bravery to save lives and make some of the world's most fragile countries safer and more stable.

"I'm pleased to have met with so many of the local companies that provide the specialist equipment Halo needs to carry out its dangerous and difficult work - they represent the best of British expertise."

Since 1988 the Halo Trust has destroyed more than 1.6 million landmines and nearly 12 million unexploded ordnance items.

'Real contribution'

It currently works in 20 countries or territories, including Afghanistan, Cambodia, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Somalia and Zimbabwe.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell also took part in the visit.

He said: "The companies working with the Halo Trust are making a real contribution to some of the poorest communities on earth - and, in doing so, are creating jobs and driving growth in Scotland.

"This is just one example of why our aid strategy is so important and why we are so proud to be meeting our commitment as a world leader in international aid."

This funding allocation is for the 2017/18 financial year.

James Cowan, of the Halo Trust, said: "Halo is tremendously proud of the work we do to save lives in some of the world's most fragile states; but we are also proud of the substantial investment we have made in local firms and businesses who supply us with their highly specialist equipment.

"All our men and women working to rid their countries of landmines and explosive ordnance are kept safer today thanks to their expertise."

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