Prince Harry continues Diana's work as he backs landmine clearance scheme in Angola

Robert Jobson, Ella Wills
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Prince Harry continues Diana's work as he backs landmine clearance scheme in Angola

Prince Harry continues Diana's work as he backs landmine clearance scheme in Angola

Prince Harry has spoken of progress in Angola since his late mother Princess Diana walked through a minefield cleared by the Halo Trust.

In a passionate address the Duke of Sussex discussed the effort to de-mine the African nation - where he and wife Meghan are expected to visit this autumn.

He gave his backing to a £47 million landmine clearing initiative to help rid Angola of the deadly military munitions - a cause championed by the Princess of Wales.

Harry said Angola's remaining wilderness was "an asset that should be protected, celebrated and benefited by its people" as the south-west African country's environment minister Paula Coelho pledged 60 million dollars (£47 million) to fund the work of landmine clearing organisation the Halo Trust.

Speaking at the Chatham House Africa Programme Event, Harry said: “This event is the culmination of a great effort by many people to progress the vital mission of de-mining Angola - and putting it back on the map as a tourist destination.

Diana, Princess of Wales, walked through a minefield cleared by the Halo Trust in 1997 (PA Archive/PA Images)

“Angola has some of the world’s most important remaining wilderness that is critical to biodiversity and an asset that should be protected, celebrated and benefitted by its people.

“The ambition of the partners gathered here to create a safer environment for communities and wildlife for the success of the country is to be applauded.”

Reiterating his mother Diana’s words he went on: “Let’s not forget landmines are a humanitarian issue not a political one.

“In fact I was told just the other day of the positive transformation in Huambo since my mother walked that minefield all those years ago.

The Duke of Sussex makes a speech during a Chatham House Africa Programme event on mine clearance in Angola (PA)

“What is less well-known is the impact landmines can have on conservation and wildlife, and therefore the economy.

“We’ve heard how this is especially the case in the national parks and wilderness areas of southeast Angola, including the precious and again vital watershed of the Okavango Delta.”

The funds will be used to clear 153 minefields in a huge conservation region of Angola, a savannah area that is home to vital waterways that flow into the Okavango Delta, in nearby Botswana, a Unesco World Heritage site.

Harry added: “This unique ecosystem is one of the great wildlife refuges of the world - enriching its biodiversity for all of humanity.

“My hope is that through this collaboration, minefields can be cleared, land can be protected, wildlife can be free to return to where they once roamed, and Angolans can reap the rewards by coexisting with the one constant that will draw people in from all over the world – the extraordinary setting that they call home.

“Angola is an important example of a country leading the way in clearing the remnants of war to secure a better future for its people and its environment – it has been a long journey, one full of heartache and frustration I’m sure, but now with the optimism and encouragement from your Government Minister, I truly believe that Angola will become a shining example to the rest of the continent.”

“The funding announced today will help protect human lives and is the first step in allowing local communities to protect wildlife through the kind of conservation-led development that has been so crucial elsewhere on the continent.

“Considerable progress has been made but there is still a huge amount to do, which is why it encourages me to see so many of you here today as we shine a light on the work that’s been done, but also how we can help moving forward.

“The fact that demining funding has been reduced by nearly 90 per cent over the last decade is pretty shocking and we hope that today will encourage those countries not to leave a job left half done.

“As long as landmines are in the ground in Angola we aren’t really giving them a chance. There is an end in sight which has already been discussed, and that isn’t always the case. So let’s make the most of this opportunity.

“I hope you will all join me in thanking the Government of Angola for this significant commitment to supporting its communities, its wildlife, and the bio-diversity of this planet,” he said.

In 2013, Harry followed in the footsteps of his mother when he visited Angola with the Halo Trust to meet victims of the munitions and observe work to remove the ordinance.

Just months before she died in a car crash in 1997, Diana, wearing a protective visor and vest, walked through an Angolan minefield cleared by the Halo Trust.