Prince Harry retraces his mother Diana's footsteps at Angola landmine fields

27 September 2019, 07:39 | Updated: 27 September 2019, 16:04

The Duke of Sussex has visited Angola and retraced the footsteps of his mother Diana, the Princess of Wales, as he paid homage to her campaign to outlaw landmines.

In images beamed around the world, Diana famously walked through a partially-cleared minefield in the African country in 1997.

Her aim was to highlight the plight of people maimed by munitions and to bring about a ban on the weapons.

Prince Harry returned to the same area which is now a street in the bustling town of Huambo following the clearance of landmines.

The duke saw first-hand the work of the landmine clearing charity the Halo Trust when he visited a site where its staff are working in the south eastern town of Dirico

Harry walked into an area that was once an artillery base for anti-government forces and the dusty scrubland was marked with red warning signs showing the skull and crossbones with the Portuguese words "Perigo Minas!" and the English translation below, "danger mines".

He was asked to set off an anti-personnel mine - discovered earlier - with a controlled explosion.

Harry said: "Landmines are an unhealed scar of war. By clearing the landmines we can help this community find peace, and with peace comes opportunity.

"Additionally, we can protect the diverse and unique wildlife that relies on the beautiful Kuito river that I slept beside last night.

"That river and those wildlife are your natural assets and, if looked after, will bring you unlimited opportunities in the conservation-led economy.

"It is fitting that this project starts in Dirico, at the convergence of the two rivers that flow from Angola's islands down to the Okavango Delta.

"These two rivers provide water and life to over a million people downstream and an essential and incredibly delicate habitat for an abundance of wildlife.

"Just as these rivers extend for miles, so must this project extend far beyond Dirico. Outside the national parks, large parts of this crucial watershed also need to be cleared of land mines.

"Clearing the full watershed will take an international effort. Everyone who recognises the priceless importance of safeguarding Africa's most intact natural landscape should commit fully to this mission."

The duke, who is midway through a 10-day tour of Africa, watched de-mining staff clear munitions so the land can return to productive use.

Diana never saw the results of her work to help outlaw landmines. She died in August 1997 - just months before an international treaty was signed to ban the weapons.

The landmines were a legacy of Angola's 27-year civil war which ended in 2002, but an unknown number of munitions that remained active have injured and maimed tens of thousands of people since.

The duke gave his backing in June to a £47m landmine clearing initiative to help destroy thousands of munitions in a huge conservation region of Angola.

The government in Angola is investing the funds in the Halo Trust, which will begin a five-year programme to clear 153 minefields of munitions in the south-eastern province of Cuando Cubango inside the Mavinga and Luengue-Luiana National Parks.