In true James Bond style, actor Daniel Craig dropped into Cyprus via helicopter to see first-hand the perils of unexploded bombs littering the ethnically divided island. "It has been an extraordinary experience because I've been able to get close to the people working on the ground in minefields," said the actor.
Craig, whose new Bond movie Spectre comes out in the UK on 26 October, spent two days in Cyprus as part of his UN role as global advocate against the use of landmines and explosives.
"I was given a chance to blow up a couple of anti-tank mines; I'm used to being near explosions, I suppose, but nothing like this. And you really understand when you hear these things go off not just the amount of damage that it can potential do, but the terror that it strikes into people that are anywhere near them when they are just sitting there silently just sort of waiting for a target."
A 115-mile ceasefire line dividing Cyprus into separate Turkish and Greek territories is laced with landmines, even though the UN has removed thousands over the years. Craig visited an active minefield close to the line – only recently identified by peacekeepers – on 12 October.
Over the past decade UN deminers have removed more than 27,000 landmines from the UN buffer zone in Cyprus. A total of 74 minefields or 9.7km2 of land have been cleared throughout the zone. The UN estimates that thousands of landmines still remain in Cyprus and large areas of land could still be contaminated by mines and unexploded ordnance.
Craig added: "And it would be great, or it would be nice to believe that I'll be the last global advocate to be here before Cyprus becomes completely mine free."
Cyprus was split in a Turkish invasion in 1974 after a brief coup by militant Greek Cypriots seeking union with Greece.