Landmines are an unhealed scar of war. By clearing the landmines, we can help this community find peace, and with peace comes opportunity.The Duke of Sussex
Thank you honourable ministers, Excellencies, distinguished guests. I am delighted to be back in Angola with The HALO Trust, after my last visit in 2013.
This minefield here in the Luengue-Luiana National Park is the first of 153 that will be cleared in the two national parks of south eastern Angola. I want to take this opportunity to highlight and thank the Angolan Government - whose vision and leadership have resulted in the commitment of $60 million dollars to this endeavour.
This historic commitment is a key step forward for the movement to rid the world of mines and lay the foundation for a safe and just future for the next generation.
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 Cuito 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 within a conservation-led economy.
It is fitting that this project starts in Dirico - at the convergence of the two rivers that flow from Angola’s highlands 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 landmines.
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. And to know that National Geographic are so involved should give a huge sense of comfort to all of us. But they’re going to need our help as the task at hand is a big one which will rely on great leadership, strong partnerships and a long term strategy.
When this great wilderness rebounds and the land is regenerated to its full potential; wildlife can and will return to Angola.
The largest elephant population in Southern Africa will be able to naturally migrate across borders, relieving pressure in neighbouring countries.
Tourism, which is already bringing investment, economic growth, and fostering worldwide appreciation for Southern Africa’s unique natural and cultural treasures, will continue to grow. Eco-tourism will bring more jobs to Angola in the future than its oil and gas industry.
And Angolans will be free to safely and sustainably develop their country, using the land the way it was designed to be used. And people and animals thriving together.
Later today I will visit Huambo, to see the place where my mother walked through a minefield in 1997. Once heavily mined, the second city of Angola is now safe.
With the right international support, this land around us here can also be like Huambo – a landmine-free, diverse, dynamic, and thriving community, connected to and benefitting from all that it has to offer.
Thank you - Obrigado!