printable banner

U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

The HALO Trust


Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
July 7, 2006

Share

Guy Willoughby, The HALO Trust
Remarks at MASG Meeting
Geneva, Switzerland
July 7, 2006

Richard Kidd has asked me to speak on a few specific points for you, the donors. Most of you already fund HALO, but for those that don’t I will spend one minute on background.

HALO has 7,000 full time demining staff, we have cleared 3.6 million land mines and unexploded ordnance, and a further 3 million stockpiled larger calibre ordnance. Our own SA/LW programme has destroyed 36 million rounds of machine gun ammunition, tens of thousands of assault weapons and some 500 anti-aircraft missiles across 4 countries.

So, the first question for answering is:

WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF MINE ACTION IN GENERAL?

Really that is a question for you the donors, as you control almost all funding of mine action. And the question is, perhaps, why do you fund it at all - I will suggest an answer later on. But first to answer the question from the Mission to China, on "why is only 29% of the UN Global Portfolio funded, with a shortfall of $310 million". No one had an answer, but actually the answer is "because the appeal is too expensive, and most mine action is too expensive, and all your Treasuries or Chancellors’ of Exchequers have competing needs. Mine action is expensive and we are amazed by the bottom line figures – for example according to Landmine Monitor HALO accounts for 48% of the multi-agency mine action/clearance in Afghanistan but only costs 12% of the budget, while in Mozambique we have covered 66% of the area presumed to be mined but only cost 16% of all the donor funds used in Mozambique since 1993 – and we have virtually finished the north of the country with that budget. Where is the rest of your money going – I don’t know, well actually I do but can’t say!

WHAT ARE THE FUTURE PRIORITIES OF HALO IN PARTICULAR?

One priority is to get completely finished in 6 countries (or non states actors) in the next few years so that you the donors can cross them off the list of countries to worry about. We will get these countries mine free or mine impact free – or whatever "Ottawa will be accepting". The HALO programmes include:

-- northern Mozambique where we are 98% finished now and all will be cleared by the end of this year or next Spring at the latest;

-- Abkhazia where we have broken the back of the problem but have a question mark up the Kodori Valley that prevents me giving you a date for the middle of next year or a little later;

-- Somaliland that may only need another 3 years and where we are racing with mineclearance ahead of local initiatives to harvest mines and extract the explosives for illegal sales;

-- Nagorno Karabakh where we are 70-75% finished and may need another 3 or so years, but funding forecasts are fraught – whatever, you the donors will not have to provide the $600 million the ANAMA think may be needed if it comes back into the Baku fold;

-- Kosovo where we could be finished in 2 years just, though if HALO leaves this Summer then Kosovo will take the Kosovo Protection Corps at least 4-5 more years to clear without HALO;

-- Sri Lanka where we had hoped to finish all the high priority tasks in Jaffna by the end of this year and then let Danish Demining Group with their guaranteed Danish Govt funds and also the Japanese demining agency and the Sri Lankan Army plug away with the lower priority bits and bobs – of course we cannot get into the High Security Zone. However we have donor funds for 2007 and the reality now, part caused by security delays, is that we will most likely need to work during 2007.

Then, we have the Big Four! Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia and Sudan are all still heavily mined and will make many years to clear. We have no exit dates.

-- In Afghanistan our 2,600 staff should be augmented by another 1,000 for provinces that have still had virtually no quality clearance from anyone – Kapisa and Herat for a start.

-- Cambodia has many many more mines to clear if we are to reduce casualties.

-- In Angola our 1,000 staff should have another 300-400 for Cuando Cubango province.

-- And Sudan – HALO Sudan needs another 1,500 deminers.

None of these 4 countries have a chance of achieving Ottawa and will need your funding for many years.

WHAT IS OUR PERSPECTIVE ON THE ROLE OF NGOS & CONTRACTORS?

As time is tight before lunch, on this question I will just comment that there are expensive NGOs as well as expensive contractors – and also not so expensive ones. In the past some people have avoided cost comparisons by saying apples can’t be compared with pears, because of set up costs, equipment etc. We don’t believe this is the case any longer – and that you the donors should look hard at comparable costs if you want to save money. NGOs and Contractors should have similar running costs (hopefully all low).

THE ROLE OF THE UN?

Co-ordination, or Co-ordination AND Control, Transparency – these are the questions for us, and what proportion of your funds will be spent on UN Co-ordination?

Recently we had a donor that ran out of funds for our deminers for the end of this month July, which would have resulted in 850 men being made redundant. When I enquired why the donor had run out of funds so fast and so early in their financial year, it was explained that they had 3 year commitments to UNMAS and UNICEF. Oh, I said tongue in cheek, well at least UNICEF will be funded to give Mine Risk Education to the children of our redundant deminers as they will need it for many years as the deminers won’t be clearing the mines that their children may tread on. But I told the Minister / Secretary of State that we thought the money going to UNMAS co-ordination was "a bit silly", as they would have no-one to co-ordinate as all the deminers would be at home! The Minister took the point and extra funds were identified for mineclearance.

There are 4 roles of the UN that concern us.

First – on the Landmine Impact Survey, but we hear today the best news from John Flanagan that it is now accepted that a low impact score does not mean a low priority for clearance, nor a high impact score is necessarily a high clearance priority, and that proximity to mined areas and other development or infrastructure factors will be included in a new scoring system for Sudan and other countries. Also, that country demining tasks and plans will not have to be based on LIS. HALO welcomes this as we have been banging on for 4-5 years that the LIS scoring system had badly skewed reality, and had resulted in millions and millions of donor dollars being wasted sorting out great swathes of land that were never mined. Of note, please please can UNMAS learn from the mistakes of certifying countries such as Cambodia and Mozambique, and never again certify a "process" just rather than the "product", particularly if the stamp of approval is being given just because the process done matched the proposed process – regardless of whether the proposed process was flawed. Today we have heard lots of sensible talk from NPA and others about the need for task cancellation and area reduction – of course none of this is new, but none of this would be necessary at all if the LIS been properly thought through early on with greater field involvement from mine trained surveyors. Certainly it is sad that Ted Patterson had to say that only 6% of a surveyed area needed clearance and great savings could be made in the other parts by managing Area Reduction and Cancellation – sad because in HALO’s view the other 94% should never have been classed as mines impacted in the first place.

Second – I have handed round two items, a metal tin of Foie Gras d’Oie and also a pot of Blue Stilton cheese. This was not really to remind us of lunch, but to make a point about dogs and mines. You can all witness the different scent from each item, and it is of course to do with the packaging. Like food, mines come in different packaging. If you only remember one thing from today, please remember the Foie Gras not smelling at all – nothing, not the slightest smell. Dogs find mines from smell – only smell. If some mines are not producing a scent bloom, then the dog misses the mine, regardless of whether the dog is good or bad. If the mine is an anti-tank mine then a bus or truck gets blown up and there are multiple deaths. HALO is so convinced that some mines do not give a scent out for the dogs, that we will never ever drive on a "dog cleared road" without full anti-tank mine protection on our vehicles. There is a problem using dogs as a primary clearance tool – mark my words even if you still decide to fund these dogs for another 4 years. But the UN – you must take action in countries such as Afghanistan and Sudan when dogs are missing mines. We have been warning you for years – long phone conversations with your senior staff in New York, face to face meetings in Kabul and also letters to New York, yet nothing seems to have been done, contracts are still being handed out, and people are being killed. The GICHD have spent 7 years "doing" dog studies and numerous "draft" IMAS – but only one very sketchy brief working IMAS. There is a problem with dogs – or rather the scent – you must address it even though some donors have ploughed in millions. Afghanistan’s new 10 year clearance plan has 50% of land mass to be cleared by dogs – that will have to be changed.

Third – and on the subject of the UN doing something, there is a big problem in Kosovo over cluster bombs. Mark my words, there is a humanitarian problem and you UNMAS cannot swing between disowning Kosovo by not including it in your 2005 Annual Report, then redirecting our donor funds away from Kosovo, withholding task dossiers and at the same time "directing" the KPC on tasks. Kosovo has a major problem, many hundreds of cluster bombs are still appearing and you must accept it.

And finally, UN discrimination on contracts. This is a UNOPS problem on contracts processed through UNMAS, and it is costing you the donors a heap of money. Basically, a UNOPS contract insists on x number of international staff (normally "x" is a high number), and these staff must come from outside the country – even if they come from other mine affected countries. So an Eritrean is an expat if he works in Sudan, but for a NGO contract from UNOPS in Eritrea the same Eritrean technician "does not count", even though his/her skills are of course even better and more useful in Eritrea! The agency has to go off and recruit outside expats from South Africa etc. This is discriminatory and expensive. Ditto an Azeri is OK for Sudan or somewhere, but not in his own country. This UNOPS system must be stopped as it is costing the donors a fortune and going against the very essence of national capacity building!

AND THEN THE DONORS – WHAT DO YOU WANT?

We have heard a number of different causes today, but what do you want to fund with your scarce resources? Our thinking is that you all generally fund for 2 or perhaps 3 reasons:

-- Legs getting blown off. Your tax payers who vote in your political masters want their tax spent trying to stop more children getting blown up. This is a straight humanitarian reason – preventative mineclearance to stop casualties – the "Princess Di" factor.

-- Poverty Reduction and the Millennium Development Goals. And this normally means clearing anti-tank mines off roads to open up markets, allow safe distribution of food aid, development etc. We think your governments all support this clearance priority.

-- Post-conflict security issues, destroying ordnance, weapons etc to reduce the supply to terrorists.

Anyway, it is for you to decide where to spend your funds – but thank you for what you have given HALO in the past.



Back to Top
Sign-in

Do you already have an account on one of these sites? Click the logo to sign in and create your own customized State Department page. Want to learn more? Check out our FAQ!

OpenID is a service that allows you to sign in to many different websites using a single identity. Find out more about OpenID and how to get an OpenID-enabled account.