International Development Secretary Priti Patel has announced a funding boost for a Scottish mine clearance charity.
The Tory frontbencher unveiled an £8.1million extension for the current Global Mine Action Programme yesterday.
This is delivered by the Halo Trust, based just outside Dumfries, alongside the Mines Advisory Group and Norwegian People’s Aid.
The money is part of a £100million three-year support package, announced by the UK Government in April on the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana’s visit to the minefields of Angola.
It will help 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 mines.
Ms Patel visited Halo’s headquarters and met a number of businesses that contribute to Britain’s “lifesaving work overseas” while helping create jobs in the UK.
These included Penman Engineering which makes armoured vehicles, Soltyre – bespoke tyre-makers for rough terrain – and ScotJCB which manufactures heavy-duty machinery.
The minister, who was joined by Scottish Secretary David Mundell, 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.
“By involving British businesses in our lifesaving work overseas, we are supporting local economies right across the UK and helping to create and protect jobs.”
Mr Mundell said: “This is a great example of how the UK’s aid commitment to help those most in need around the world also works here at home in our national interest.
“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.”
The Halo Trust, which works in 20 countries or territories, is one of the leading global non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on demining.
Since 1988, it has destroyed more than 1.6 million landmines and nearly 12 million unexploded ordnance.
Last year, it made 74 million square metres of land safe, benefitting 1.8 million people, and ensured 61% of cleared land was released for agriculture.