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Princess Diana trust funds For "Destroy a Minefield" Initiative



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‘ MEDIA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

ALEXANDER DOW NER

FA129 12 October 1998

PRINCESS DIANA TRUST FUNDS FOR "DESTROY A MINEFIELD" INITIATIVE

As part of the Government’s ongoing commitment to addressing the appalling humanitarian disaster caused by landmines, I am pleased to today announce an innovative initiative on mine clearance and mine awareness.

The Government’s "Destroy a Minefield" initiative will enable individuals, schools, community groups, businesses and associations to participate directly in solving the landmines problem by "adopting" active minefields selected by the United Nations as having a high priority for clearance.

The "Destroy a Minefield" program will use funds from the Princess Diana Trust Fund set up to collect the sales tax revenue raised from the Elton John "Candle in the Wind" tribute CD in memory of the Princess of Wales.

The tragic effects of landmines were of particular interest to Princess Diana who worked hard to raise awareness of the plight of landmine victims and the magnitude of the problem prior to her death last year.

An Australian non-government organisation (NGO) will be selected to implement and administer the program. The NGO will seek sponsors in the Australian community to raise the necessary hinds to clear adopted minefields.

The $200,000 allocated from the Princess Diana Trust Fund will be the final allocation of the $793,000 of sales tax revenue raised from the tribute CD. The Government will also contribute an additional $200,000 to the program on top of the Trust Fund allocation.

Sponsors will raise funds in their respective communities to clear the adopted minefield and return the land to local populations for productive use. Every two dollars raised by sponsors will be matched by one dollar from the Princess Diana Trust Fund. This will create a potential contribution of $1.2 million.

As part of the Government’s commitment to eradicate landmines, I was today also pleased to open a photographic exhibition on landmines in the Atrium of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The exhibition is a powerful and timely reminder that, despite considerable progress made recently in addressing the landmines problem, there is no room for complacency. Encouraging as it is that an international treaty banning landmines has been agreed, and that over 120 countries, including Australia, have signed on to it, the sad reality is that millions of landmines remain in the ground, killing and maiming innocent civilians on a daily basis. „

Media releases and s p e e c h e s are available from DFAT via the internet, http://www.dfat.gov.au/

The exhibition-is a stark portrayal of the devastating impact of landmines on the lives of ordinary people and their communities. The "Destroy a Minefield" program is about enabling Australians to make a direct contribution to solving this humanitarian crisis.

Australia is one of the leading international contributors to landmine clearance programs, and our demining skills, experience and technology are in demand. Australian soldiers and civilians have been involved in demining programs in Cambodia, Angola, Mozambique and Afghanistan, and Australia is now the largest donor to the Cambodia Mine Action Centre. Based on the Government’s record to date and our ongoing commitment to demining, we anticipate allocating in excess of $100 million for demining, victim assistance and related activities by the year 2005.

The Ottawa Convention, which Australia has signed and is in the process of ratifying, will enter into force on 1 March 1999. Australia’s aim is to be an original state party.

The photographic exhibition coincides with National Refugee Week, the theme of which is demining - "Clearing a Path to Safety". It is sponsored by the International Committee of the Red Cross and Austcare, and will run from 12 to 16 October.

For further inforamtion contact: Ministerial - Innes Willox 0419 206890 Departmental - Kirk Coningham (02) 6261 1555.

Copies of a new video which illustrates Australia’s commitment to demining are available from Matt Francis at AusAID (02) 6206 4967.