Beginning with a war of independence in the 1960s and followed by 30 years of civil war, Angola’s landmine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) problem is a product of four decades of continuous conflict, rendering the country extremely hazardous. Landmines and UXO prevent the normalization of daily life, creating an obstacle to humanitarian assistance and slowing the economic recovery of the country. Across all 18 provinces, the Landmine Impact Survey researched the socioeconomic impact on communities in Angola, confirming that mines and explosive remnants of war affect more than 2.2 million people in 1,968 villages. Moreover, Angola has an estimated 2 million at-risk, military type small arms and light weapons in civilian hands and many more in unsecured government stockpiles. Between FY2002 and FY2007 the U.S. Department of State spent over $1.8 million to help Angola destroy surplus weapons and ammunition.
In FY 2008, the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State continued humanitarian mine action financial support to The HALO Trust (HALO), Mines Advisory Group (MAG), and Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) with $5,124,085, resulting in the clearance of 900 kilometers of road and more than 1.2 million square meters of land. A grant for $1,640,068 was provided to HALO for five Weapons and Ammunition Destruction (WAD) teams to destroy excess weapons and degraded ammunition. An additional $42,500 in matching funds enabled The Julia Burke Foundation to provide two purpose-built weapons-cutting shears for use by HALO mobile WAD teams. With the elimination of more than 220 tons of excess and unstable munitions during 2008, the PM/WRA-funded WAD had another successful year.
The U.S. Department of Defense’s Humanitarian Demining Research and Development Program (HD R&D), in partnership with HALO, continued a technology evaluation of the Rotary Mine Comb in Angola. Intermeshing tines on two rotors gently extricate large buried objects, including anti-tank mines, from the soil and push them to the side of the host vehicle’s path. HALO reports positive risk-reduction results with the Comb in sandy soil, clearing 17 kilometers of road in FY2008. With total assistance valued at $600,000, HD R&D also provided HALO with funding for evaluations of a heavy detonation trailer and JCB Loadall.
The Rotary Mine Comb (RMC) is designed to gently extricate buried objects from the soil and pushes them to the side of the vehicle’s path. The machine is clearing the road between the Angolan towns of Mavinga and Cuito Cuanavale in the province of Cuando Cubango. The operation is being run by The HALO Trust. This 200 km road is part of the main route out of Cuando Cubango. The RMC is used to find and remove anti-tank mines still present in the road despite prior treatment with mine rollers.
MAG operators prepare for demolition in Moxico province, Angola.
Doreen Bailey (right) from the U.S. Embassy in Luanda, Angola gets a chance to blow up mines and UXO. With a MAG technical expert at hand, Bailey detonates the MAG-prepared demolition pit.
Crime has soared and the Burundian economy has suffered because of the insecurity caused by large numbers of arms circulating throughout the country. United States assistance to the government of Burundi has included the destruction of excess man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS) and small arms and light weapons (SA/LW), and a project to improve security of military stockpiles.
In FY2008, the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State provided $200,000 to the nongovernmental organization Mines Advisory Group (MAG) to destroy the remaining excess MANPADS and other surplus weapons, and to carry out physical security upgrades to the Central Logistics Base in Bujumbura. The weapons-destruction tools provided to the United Nations Development Programme in FY2007 continue to facilitate additional SA/LW destruction and build Burundi’s capacity for further weapons destruction. In addition, Burundi benefited from a grant awarded to the Regional Centre on Small Arms in Nairobi, Kenya, which provided a SA/LW-marking machine to the Burundi military.
104 SAM 7s being prepared for a controlled demolition in Burundi.
Sparks fly as Matthew Garrett from the U.S. Embassy in Bujumbura cuts up a weapon at the Military Central Logistics Base.
As a result of 30 years of internal conflict and the 1973 Libyan invasion, Chad’s landmine and explosive remnants of war (ERW) problem is extensive. Funded in part by the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) in the U.S. Department of State, a Landmine Impact Survey (LIS) conducted from 1999–2001 identified 249 mine-impacted communities spanning 1,000 square kilometers of land; however, the number of mine-impacted communities is likely higher because the LIS did not include the Tibesti region due to security concerns. Unexploded ordnance (UXO) was also scattered around N’Djamena in April 2006 during fighting between government and rebel forces as well as during similar attacks in February 2008. Ninety percent of identified mine- and ERW-affected areas are located in the Biltine, Borkou, Ennedi, Quaddai, and Tibesti regions. The Sudan–Darfur region along the Chad–Sudan border contains a number of mined areas as well as UXO contamination.
PM/WRA provided $65,000 for rehabilitation support of mine/UXO victims to the Chadian nongovernmental organization Centre d’Appareillage et de Rééducation de Kabalye (CARK). CARK provides physical therapy and acquires, fabricates, and furnishes orthopedic appliances and wheelchairs, canes, and braces for victims of war, mines, and other accidents. From October 2007 through September 2008, the PM/WRA funds aided CARK in providing a variety of services to 1,659 people, which included fitting 121 persons with prosthetics and 116 persons with orthotic devices.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo
The ongoing landmine and explosive remnants of war problem in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is in large part due to protracted conflict that began as a full-scale, nationwide war in 1996 and continues on a much smaller scale in particular areas of the country. Additionally, excessive quantities of military small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) have become abundant through illegal arms trafficking and this has increased crime throughout the country. In FY 2007, the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State contributed $1,375,000 to the humanitarian organization Mines Advisory Group (MAG). This grant for the removal and destruction of unsecured and abandoned SA/ LW by MAG continues through March 2009. By November 2008, MAG had destroyed over 21,630 weapons and nearly 245 tons of excess and unstable munitions.
The U.S. Agency for International Development’s Leahy War Victims Fund provided $1 million in support to the International Committee of the Red Cross’ Special Fund for the Disabled. The program supports prosthetics and orthotics services for people with disabilities in 28 localities throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
In addition, Ethiopia benefited from a grant awarded to the Regional Centre on Small Arms (RESCA) in Nairobi, Kenya, which provided two SA/LW-marking machines to the Ethiopian military. RESCA has destroyed 12,600 firearms in Ethiopia since 2006.
Internal conflict in 1998–99, the War of Liberation in 1963–1974, and various periods of military activity along Guinea-Bissau’s borders have resulted in the country’s contamination by landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW). With $1,787,000 provided from FY2000 through FY2007, the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) in the U.S. Department of State supported the return of over 240 acres of land for safe use, completed a Landmine Impact Survey (LIS) in Guinea-Bissau, and improved skills of demining and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) personnel working for the indigenous nongovernmental organization HUMAID. The threat posed to local communities by unstable stockpiles has been reduced with the destruction of nearly 106 tons of excess military munitions.
In FY2008 PM/WRA provided $608,995 for continued destruction of surplus military munitions by the nongovernmental organization Cleared Ground and landmine/ unexploded ordnance (UXO) clearance by HUMAID.
Between 2006 and 2008, the U.S. Department of Defense’s Humanitarian Demining Research and Development Program invested approximately $300,000 in operational field evaluations of the MAXX (a remote-controlled mini-excavator) with Guinea-
Bissau’s National Mine Action Coordination Centre. After successful vegetation clearance, the MAXX cleared munitions contaminating populated areas around a destroyed army arsenal in the capital city, Bissau.
U.S. AFRICOM HMA Manager Joseph Severino examines Russian RBK cluster bomb units waiting destruction in Guinea-Bissau.
PM/WRA Program Manager Deborah Netland pushes the detonator, destroying various munitions, including cluster bombs in Guinea-Bissau.
The children of Buruntuma, Guinea-Bissau take a break from gathering firewood; the child on the left places her hand on a stake where a mine was removed.
Arms destruction in Kenya.
A HALO Trust female deminer working in Maputo province, Mozambique.
Mozambique is littered with landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) due to nearly 30 years of conflict that came to a close in the early 1990s. Landmines and ERW are found throughout the entire country. The Inhambane province harbors the largest number of mined areas, and a total of 12,164,041 square meters of land in Mozambique are covered by suspected landmines according to the Landmine Monitor Report (2008).
The United States has invested over $16 million to develop a sustainable national demining capability within the Mozambican Army Humanitarian Demining Unit (HDU) since the mid-1990s. Although no FY2008 funds were committed to Mozambique, the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) in the U.S. Department of State allocated $438,967 to help Mozambique complete the development of its national demining capacity, and assess the remaining landmine/ERW threat in Mozambique in FY2007. Through PM/WRA’s closing contribution of $259,849, the final phase of this effort was funded through its ArmorGroup contractor to complete the training and skills transfer necessary for the HDU staff to continue managing and executing mine-action activities in a safe and effective manner without further foreign technical oversight.
With half of the country now mine-impact free, PM/WRA contributed $179,118 as part of a multi-donor funded project for The HALO Trust to conduct a technical review in the central and southern regions of the country. The report, released in October 2007, provided a more accurate picture of the remaining mine/ERW threat in the central and southern half of Mozambique. The findings confirmed 450 minefields remaining with large minefields in the Cahora Bassa Dam area.
Republic of the Congo
Some of the 500 kg aircraft bombs lying haphazardly on the grounds of Brazzaville Central Armament Depot.
Three major episodes of conflict between 1993 and 1999 displaced approximately 810,000 people and caused widespread killing and looting in the Republic of the Congo (RoC). Arms obtained by the main militia groups were reportedly looted from police and military depots. It was estimated that 34,000 weapons remained in circulation in the RoC, despite strenuous efforts to recover these weapons through ad hoc disarmament and reintegration programs. Successfully recovered weapons and munitions were stored in unsecured government depots in populated areas, posing a significant security threat. If these ammunition stores were to catch on fire or spontaneously detonate, they would create a serious public safety and health hazard.
In FY2007, with $445,000 in funding from the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) in the U.S. Department of State, the nongovernmental organization Mines Advisory Group (MAG) completed technical surveys at two contaminated ammunition depots in Brazzaville and Dolisie-Kimongo. Findings revealed that over a decade after the explosion of ammunition stores, accidents continue to occur, with the last one reported in October 2007. Between September 2007 and April 2008, nearly 59 tons of munitions and 1,077 small arms and light weapons (SA/LW), including man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS) components, were destroyed.
In FY2008, PM/WRA provided MAG with an additional $675,000 to continue destruction of excess/obsolete weapons and ammunition. During 2008, two military stockpiles of weapons and ammunition were reorganized and inventoried, and registration of items authorized for destruction was completed. This project has not only facilitated the destruction of excess and hazardous military stockpiles but has also contributed to developing the national armed forces’ capacity to carry out conventional weapons destruction and stockpile management.
In FY 2008, Rwanda benefited from a grant awarded by the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State to the Regional Centre on Small Arms (RESCA) in Nairobi, Kenya, which provided a SA/LW-marking machine to the Rwanda military. RESCA also used the U.S. funds to publicize arms destruction events in Rwanda in FY 2007 and FY 2008.
In FY 2008 the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State launched a $1.4 million conventional weapons destruction program in Somalia, which will also include the clearance of landmines and explosive remnants of war throughout heavily affected areas of northern Somalia.
This initiative is being carried out through grants to Mines Advisory Group (MAG) and The HALO Trust (HALO). MAG will destroy stockpiles of conventional weapons collected from three military camps in Puntland, a region with 2.4 million people located in northern Somalia. The grant will also fund the continued deployment of a MAG explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team tasked with identifying and destroying new stockpiles of munitions. Additionally, MAG will provide training to develop local EOD capacity.
The grant to HALO will reinforce landmine clearance operations in Somaliland. With over 440 local Somali staff, HALO is already the largest humanitarian-demining organization in that region. Specifically, the grant will support HALO manual-demining teams, which are equipped with state-of-the art Handheld Standoff Mine Detection System (HSTAMIDS) mine detectors, developed by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Humanitarian Demining Research and Development Program.
Decades of conflict in Somalia continue to threaten political and economic stability in the Horn of Africa region. Weapons caches, landmines, and explosive remnants of war endanger the populace and provide a steady supply of arms to terrorists and insurgents. These grants will improve the situation by decreasing the impact of landmines and explosive remnants of war while enabling enhanced development and humanitarian-relief programs throughout the countryside.
The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) and the Sudanese government signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in January 2005, which prohibits the use of landmines; however, landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) are estimated to affect 19 of Sudan’s 25 states to this day. Contamination is primarily concentrated in the southern and central areas of the country where fighting between the SPLM/A and Sudanese government occurred. Unfortunately, the extent of the affected areas is still unknown because in-depth surveys have not been conducted. All of the country’s borders, including those with Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya and Uganda, are reportedly mine-affected. In FY 2007, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) received a grant of $1 million to establish and maintain two national mine-clearance and two national explosive-ordnance disposal (EOD) teams. The Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) in the U.S. Department of State contributed $2,725,000 to mine action in Sudan and an additional $600,000 to small arms/light weapons (SA/LW) destruction. PM/WRA granted Cranfield University $400,000 to provide managerial training to Sudanese mine-action supervisors and $1,539,000 to Mines Advisory Group (MAG) to sustain a mobile EOD capability in central and western Equatoria, support mine-risk education (MRE) in way stations and high-risk villages, and support a SA/LW destruction team in South Sudan. PM/WRA also provided Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) $100,000 to help support the operations of two EOD teams and one battle-area clearance (BAC) team along primary roads in South Sudan to ensure the safe return and settlement of refugees and internally displaced persons. Finally, DanChurchAid (DCA) received a PM/WRA grant of $286,000 to fund an EOD team and MRE team in the Nuba Mountains.
In FY 2008, Cranfield University received an additional $400,000 grant to conduct upper- and middle-management training of indigenous Sudanese mine-action supervisors. PM/WRA provided UNDP with $3,600,200 for mine action and $1 million for SA/LW destruction, and also granted UNDP $750,000 to provide comprehensive management, technical, and advisory support to Sudan’s National Mine Action Authority, the National Mine Action Center, and the Southern Sudan Demining Commission. With two grants, PM/WRA further provided DCA with $790,000 to continue the support of operations of one EOD/BAC team and the deployment of a Wide Area Detection System for area verification and release in the Nuba Mountains. MAG received a total of $1,810,000: a $375,000 grant to distribute MRE to people in way stations and villages of return, a $435,000 grant for the deployment of a mobile EOD team for the destruction of UXO and other ERW, and a $1 million grant for SA/LW stockpile destruction. To provide funding for EOD and BAC team operations in support of the Southern Sudan Demining Commission, NPA received a grant of $650,000. FY2008 also marked the first time PM/WRA funded an indigenous Sudanese organization by approving a grant to the Sudanese Integrated Mine Action Service. The grant of $200,200 was used to support mine/battle-area clearance operations and technical EOD skills training.
The U.S. Agency for International Development’s Leahy War Victims Fund provided a total of $589,000 in rehabilitation assistance to survivors of conflict-related injuries and illnesses in southern Sudan in 2008. To learn more about the Leahy War Victims Fund, visit www.usaid.gov/ourwork/humanitarianassistance/thefunds/lwvf.
BAC lane in South Sudan.
Mine-risk education session in Yei, South Sudan.
An unexploded mortar discovered on the outskirts of Yei, South Sudan.
Large parts of Uganda are contaminated with landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) due to various wars, rebellions, and insurgencies such as those by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Military-type small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) and man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS) are also readily accessible to armed groups. The country’s most affected areas include border regions with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, and the region referred to as the Luwero Triangle. Landmines and ERW also exist in the Western Rwenzori Mountains due to insurgencies in the late 1980s by the National Army of the Liberation of Uganda, and the late 1990s until 2001 by the Allied Democratic Forces. Units of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces reportedly used mines and submunitions during cross-border fights with insurgents from the Congo and Sudan.
In 2008, as part of a grant to the Regional Centre on Small Arms in Nairobi, Kenya, Uganda received one marking machine and training for the military in order to better enable the recordkeeping and tracing of military weapons.
Landmines have been removed from most areas of Uganda and citizens are returning to previous livelihoods, including farming. A boy from Uganda displays recently harvested beans.
RECSA-trained officer demonstrates to a Uganda army officer the use of a marking machine.