Blogging Angola: Why we are here – MAG and a school in a minefield

Demining allows development.  Before schools can be built or crops can be planted, the mines must be cleared.  MAG anticipates another 25 million square meters of land in Moxico province will still need to be cleared at the end of this year.  Until that work is done, Angola cannot fulfill its destiny.

In Maputo at the 2014 Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty, the countries that have joined the Treaty, including Angola, committed to making a landmine-free world by 2025.  This would be a very good thing and in a future post I will explore what it will take for Angola to meet that target, but a mine-free world is not an end point in and of itself.  A mine-free world allows everything that we might take for granted in the United States to happen: houses to be built, land to be used, paths to be taken – life to happen.  And it starts with mine-free communities.

Our merry party has grown: the Deputy Chief of Mission for the US Embassy, Connie, and the Dutch Ambassador to Angola, Willem, have joined up and Connie will be with us for the rest of the trip.  Willem comes with a security detail provided by the Angolan national police which adds another four people (who come with a police truck and siren which they have mercifully not used yet).  We are in Luena, capital of Moxico province which had been a UNITA stronghold during the civil war and was where Jonas Savimbi was killed in 2002, effectively ending the conflict. Luena is a planned city which has never caught up to the plan, but the wide boulevards and Portuguese architecture are appealing for casual strolls.

Photo 4-01 MAP

From Cuito Cuanavale to Luena

MAG has been working in Moxico province since 1994 and done an awful lot in that time.  Like NPA and HALO, they are operating at lower capacity than in the past,  but with new leadership in country and increased attention from the headquarter’s fundraising team, they are hoping to turn it around.  And be able to hand over more cleared minefields to the community.

Today we are in Lingonga minefield and visiting the Calapo school which had been built on the minefield after MAG cleared.  Calapo is near a river and along the main road out of Luena.  During the civil war, the bridge was a strategic point and the Angolan army laid mines along both sides of the river.  In 2008, a government demining team cleared the roadway and the space for the bridge, but the minefields along the river were left mostly intact.  MAG started working on the site in 2014 as the river is a major water collection point and while we were there we could see several people washing their clothes in the river just a few yards from the bridge.  They were now safe to do as MAG had cleared all of the mines on the southern side of the river and had begun work on the northern side of the river.  The minefields on the south side of the bridge are called Lingonga East and Lingonga West.  Lingonga West had been further divided into the Alpha and Bravo minefields.  The Bravo minefield, where the Calapo school had been built, was handed over to the community in 2015.  Today we were handing over the Lingonga West-Alpha minefield and the Lingonga East minefield.

Photo 4-02 Panorama

Panorama shot of the Lingonga minefields

We did the usual minefield tour with MAG: briefing, don the PPE gear, walk the minefield  and blow some stuff up, but for the me the draw was to see the end product, what could be done once a minefield had been cleared.  Moxico’s vice governor told us that this area had been prioritized for clearance by the local government as the population was growing from refugees returning from Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angolans returning to Moxico.  The Brigadier told us that in 1986, when he was serving in the army in this area, there were no people living here (the Brigadier was part of the engineering corps which laid the landmines in the minefields that MAG was clearing; the Brigadier was able to draw maps from memory that have proven useful to MAG).

After the tour, we headed to Calapo school.  The students and the community came out to greet us.

Photo 4-03 Handover

The community and students of Calapo school

The school has 6 teachers and 300 students who attend classes from 8 am to 3 pm with an hour’s break for lunch.  If the minefields had not been cleared and the school been built, those same children would have gone to a two-room school compared to the 14 classrooms they have now.  The local administration has also secured new school books and desks to fill the classrooms.

Photo 4-04 School

School supplies, a classroom full of students and the dedication plaque

And even though the landmines around the school have been cleared, the school bell – the back half of an air-dropped bomb that did not explode – is a constant reminder to the community that the school grounds were once a battlefield.  (Another school we saw nearby had its bell made from the metal rims of a truck wheel.)

Photo 4-05 Bell

Half of a bomb makes up the Calapo school’s bell

During the handover ceremony, MAG’s technical field manager, a burly South African who goes by “H” and lost an arm to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, recalled that when he and his team first came to the Lingonga minefields in 2013, “We promised you we will finish [demining] the area and today, I promise you we are finished with this side of the river.”  MAG cleared 110 anti-personnel mines from the grounds where the school stands, an area of 95,000 square meters.  H also told the assembled parents, community leaders and regional administrators, “We are now working to clear the other side of the river [of landmines].” The minefields on the north side of the river are well known to the community, a boy having lost his life in one of the fields a few years earlier.

In gratitude, the school children, dressed in their uniforms despite it being a Saturday, sang the welcoming song on our arrival and departure.  You can hear the song on YouTube here .

Photo 4-06 Next Generation

A generation I hope will never know the fear of landmines

This is why we clear landmines.  These children were born after the end of the war and they should not have to live with its after effects: Angola’s war should be part of its history, not its present.

Michael P. Moore

June 26, 2016

moe (at) landminesinafrica (dot) org

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The Month in Mines, July 2014

In case anyone was expecting a lull in mine action news following the Maputo Review Conference, July’s stories from the continent confirm that despite the positive news and outcomes from the Conference, landmines continue to take lives.

 

Nigeria

They must have known that they were in for a long, protracted struggle because the Nigerian Police Forces have developed and unveiled a new landmine-proof vehicle for use in combating insurgents (All Africa).  Too late to #bringbackourgirls, but maybe the Nigerian police can prevent future kidnappings.

 

Tunisia

Three different landmine incidents occurred in the first week of July in the restive Mount Chaambi area along the Algerian border, killing at least four people and wounding six.  In the first incident, four soldiers and two guardsmen were injured by a landmine when their vehicle drove over it near Kef (Tunisia Live).  In the second incident, a civilian entered a closed military zone and died after stepping on a mine. There was no explanation for why the man entered the zone (AFP).  In the third incident four soldiers, and maybe a civilian, were killed by a landmine, also near Kef (All Africa).  Tunisian authorities blamed all casualties on Islamist forces who have been using Mount Chaambi as a base from which to threaten the government.

 

Western Sahara

Vice magazine and the War is Boring blog both profiled the Moroccan berm that splits the Western Sahara territory with 7 million landmines and has caused hundreds, if not thousands of casualties. Both pieces addressed the ongoing conflict and how Islamists have been trying to recruit members from the youths living in the refugee camps on the eastern side of the berm.  Worth noting that Mohamed Abdelaziz, the President of Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) which is the government in-waiting for Western Sahara, has been in power since 1976, trailing only Cameroon’s Paul Biya as the longest-serving leader of a country.

 

Angola

Angolan authorities reported out on landmine clearance progress in Cuanza Sul, Benguela, Cunene and Moxico Provinces.  Removing and destroying thousands of explosive remnants of war, the country continues to make slow progress towards becoming mine-free.  In Cuanza Sul, almost 8 million square meters were cleared of mines over 18 years and now the focus is shifting to secondary and tertiary roads (All Africa).  In Benguela, explosive items that had been stored for more than a year were finally destroyed.  Prompt (certainly more prompt than seen in Benguela) destruction of stockpiled munitions is necessary to prevent accidentally discharges of munitions (All Africa).  With the support of Mines Advisory Group, 1.5 million square meters in Moxico Province have already been cleared in 2014.  Landmine clearance tasks have focused on access roads to allow free movement and the proposed high voltage lines for a future hydroelectric dam (All Africa).  Cunene province’s agricultural outputs will be boosted by the clearing of farmlands and already half a million square meters have been cleared (All Africa).

 

Mozambique

The tensions between former rebel group RENAMO and the government of Mozambique continued in July which delayed landmine clearance in the Chibabava district of Sofala province.  The government of Mozambique had hoped to finish all landmine clearance in 2014 and RENAMO’s actions threaten that timeline which means that Mozambicans may continue to live with the threat of landmines longer than was necessary (All Africa).

 

Zimbabwe

The director of the Zimbabwe Mine Action Centre (ZMAC), Col. Mkhululi Ncube testified before the Zimbabwean Senate’s Thematic Committee on Peace and Security, shortly after he participated in the Maputo Review Conference.  Col. Ncube told the Committee that over 3,600 people have been killed or injured by landmines since 1980 and some 800,000 people have been economically affected by the continuing presence of landmines along the country’s borders.  Landmines have hampered the tourism and agricultural industries in Zimbabwe as well as killing thousands of herd animals. Martin Rushwaya, representing the Ministry of Defence, said that as much as US $100 million may be needed to clear all of the landmines from the country.

In recent years most landmine injuries have been attributed to deliberate tampering with explosives by people trying to extract non-existent red mercury from the devices.  In response ZMAC has been incorporating messages about red mercury in its mine risk education materials.

On the positive side, the minefield surrounding the Kariba Hydroelectric Power Station, the very first minefield laid in Zimbabwe when it was still a British colony, has been cleared and thousands of landmines have been cleared since work resumed in earnest in 2012 (All Africa; News Day; Zimbabwe Mail).

 

Sudan

The Higleg area of Sudan’s West Kordofan state has been declared free of landmines.  Heglig was the site of fighting in 2011 between Sudan and South Sudan but has since been cleared of mines (Sudanese Online).

In North Darfur, heavy rains have exposed landmines laid by the government of Sudan according to one of the rebel groups, the Sudan Liberation Movement, Abdel Wahid El Nur.  The landmines were spotted near Kutum town and were believed to be intended to “hamper movement of the Darfur resistance forces” (All Africa).

In response to the mine risk throughout the country, Sudan’s National Demining Center launched a mine risk education campaign in the five Darfur states and in Blue Nile state with the support of national and international organizations.  The campaign will integrate mine risk messages into school curricula (GM Sudan).

 

Somalia

The Development Initiative has delivered mine risk education messages to over 170,000 Somalis and in the process provided job skills and education opportunities for the Somali staff working for the project (Devex).

Towards the end of the month, Mogadishu’s mayor narrowly avoided a possible assassination attempt when his vehicle drove over a landmine.  The mayor and his security detail were protected from the blast by their vehicle but at least one passerby was killed and another injured by the blast (Sabahi).

 

Egypt

In late June, Stephen Beecroft was confirmed as the US Ambassador to Egypt.  While Amb. Beecroft will undoubtedly have his hands full with issues related to the US relationship with Egypt and the assaults on democracy and human rights emanating from the current regime, we ask the Amb. Beecroft remember his time served in the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs where he was involved with landmine clearance.  Egypt has the greatest number of landmines of any country in Africa, almost as many as all other African countries combined, and could use additional assistance to clear this lingering threat (All Gov).

 

Mali

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) has been active in Northern Mali for some time, responding to the threats of landmines and ERW which did not exist prior to the Islamist takeover of the region.  Since March 2012, over one hundred civilians have been killed or injured by landmines and ERW, more than half of them children; almost 250 soldiers from the various national and international forces have been killed or injured since January 2013.  UNMAS recently trained explosive ordnance disposal companies from Cambodia and Nepal who are serving in the United Nations peacekeeping force in Mali (MINUSMA).  Two of the Cambodian peacekeepers were injured by an anti-personnel mine when their vehicle drove over the mine.  Because it was an anti-personnel mine and not an anti-vehicle mine, the injuries were severe but not life-threatening.  As the head of the Cambodian team in Mali put it, the driver’s “leg injury was not serious enough for it to be cut off and now he is in hospital in Mali” (Phnom Penh Post).

One point to make about the peacekeepers: Nepal and Cambodia, especially Cambodia, suffer from contamination from landmines and other ERW.  Shouldn’t these trained deminers be working to clear their own countries of landmines before assisting others?

 

Uganda

Landmine survivor, advocate and director of the Uganda Landmine Survivors Association (ULSA), Margaret Arech Orech was selected by the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego as a 2014 Women PeaceMaker.  As one of four such PeaceMakers, Ms. Orech will serve a three-month residency at the University and contribute to conversations about the role of women in international peacebuilding.

 

Zambia

Zambia has declared itself to be free of landmines, but the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) recently updated its travel advice for Zambia saying “There is a risk of landmines in remote areas near the borders with Angola, Mozambique and [the Democratic Republic of Congo].”  The FCO is not clear about whether or not it believes the landmines are in Zambian territory or if it is just warning travelers about the presence of landmines in the neighboring states along the border.  If the FCO has evidence of landmines in Zambia, the FCO should share than knowledge so the government of Zambia can respond (Foreign and Commonwealth Office).

Because of Zambia’s experience in clearing its territory of landmines and ERW, the Foreign Minister, Harry Kalaba, offered his nation’s assistance to Vietnam to help Vietnam address its own landmine and ERW threat.  The announcement came during Kalaba’s visit to Hanoi and is part of an effort to expand cooperation between the two countries (Vietnam News).

 

South Sudan (via South Africa)

South Africa’s parastatal company, Mechem, is one of the largest demining firms in Africa.  In an article describing Mechem’s growing portfolio, the company’s general manager reported that Mechem provides bomb disposal services for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) beginning July 1 and Mechem’s teams are destroying an average of a ton of ERW in Libya each month.  However, Mechem also reports that the civil war in South Sudan has severely restricted activities there and Mechem is only able to do emergency work at the moment.  Mechem also warned of the “strong possibility” of new landmine usage in South Sudan (Defence Web).

 

Norway

In a bit of irony, Norway, a leader in mine action around the world and a strong champion of the Mine Ban Treaty, twice evacuated a kindergarten in Karmøy in southwestern Norway after two landmines, presumably leftover from World War II, were discovered on the nearby beach in separate incidents in the same week.  Both mines were quickly destroyed, but their presence serves as a reminder that landmines are a global issue (The Local).

Michael P. Moore

August 20, 2014

Moe (at) landminesinafrica (dot) org


This Frisbee Clears Landmines Tournament 2013

Every year, thousands of men, women and children are killed or injured by landmines in dozens of countries around the world. The only way to ensure that these injuries and accidents stop is to completely remove all landmines from the ground, an expensive and time-consuming process. Well, we’re going to help get a few more landmines out of the ground and hopefully have a little fun doing it.

In honor of International Mine Action and Awareness day, I’m happy to announce that on Thursday, July 4th 2013, Landmines in Africa will host the second annual “This Frisbee Clears Mines Tournament,” an Ultimate Frisbee tournament, with support from the Washington Area Frisbee Club to benefit MAG America‘s landmine clearance activities. Last year, Team Libya (pictured to the right) won the tournament while raising almost $750.  This year’s Tournament will take place at Anacostia Park in Washington, DC; all participants should arrive no later than 9:30 am for registration and team assignments.

The tournament is open to all and will follow a “Hat Tourney” format. What’s a Hat Tourney, you say? In a Hat Tourney, all the participants show up at 9:30 am, put their name in a hat and from that hat, names will be drawn to form 15-person teams. Those teams will then be put into groups and play three games each. If there are enough teams, we’ll have a final championship match.

Since the Tournament is on the Fourth and what’s the Fourth without a barbecue, we’ll have some grills going for lunch and snacks. MAG will have a table in case you want to learn more about landmines and their work.

To register, you can either show up on the Tournament day with your $20 donation to MAG America, or you can pre-register by making your $10 donation via Tournament’s dedicated First Giving page. You should feel free to donate more, if you so choose or if you can’t make the tournament, but want to contribute, your support would be welcome.

For more information about the tournament, please email me at michael.patrick.moore@gmail.com.

To register, please visit our First Giving page.

For more information about MAG America, please visit their webpage.

For more information about Ultimate Frisbee and the Washington Area Frisbee Club, please visit WAFC’s webpage.

For more information about landmines and mine action, as well as information about other landmine awareness raising activities, please visit the US Campaign to Ban Landmines webpage and the Lend Your Leg campaign website.

Thanks, and I look forward to seeing you on the 4th!

Michael P. Moore

www.LandminesinAfrica.org

michael.patrick.moore@gmail.com

Follow us on Twitter: @minesinafrica

Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/LandminesinAfrica


Where to find the (Unfiltered) Survivor Voice

In the modern world of internet, telecommunications, mass media and whatnot, the ability for individuals to find platforms to express themselves is simply astonishing.  However, one group I keep looking for and have some difficulty finding is landmine survivors.  There are many, many landmine survivor stories available on line, but many of them are filtered through one of the many (worthy) organizations working in mine action.  The survivors’ voices are selected for their ability to convey the message the mine action organization needs to communicate, often related to fund-raising.  The opportunities to hear directly from survivors in an unfiltered manner are few, but notable.  What follows is a non-exhaustive list of survivor voices which provides some sense of the breadth of landmine survivors who are telling their own stories, on behalf of themselves and their peers.

 

Associations and Organizations

Uganda Landmine Survivors Association (www.uganda-survivors.org): Founded in 2005 and led by survivor and International Campaign to Ban Landmines ambassador, Margaret Arach Orech, the Uganda Landmine Survivors Association (ULSA) is a national organization focusing on advocacy and victim assistance.  The Association’s members are locally-based survivor associations that strive to serve the needs of landmine victims in their areas through a range of victim assistance programs, including psycho-social support and economic empowerment.

Afghan Landmine Survivors Organization (www.afghanlandminesurvivors.org and www.facebook.com/afghanlandminesurvivorsorganization): Founded in 2007 the Afghan Landmine Survivors Organization (ALSO) provides peer outreach, vocational training, and advocacy for landmine victims.  On behalf of all persons with disabilities, ALSO works on issues of inclusion and accessibility and uses social and traditional media (check out their Flickr page in addition to their Facebook page) to get their message out.

Landmine Survivors Initiative (www.ipm-lsi.org): Founded by the former employees of Landmine Survivors Network’s Bosnia-Herzegovina office, Bosnia’s Landmine Survivors Initiative (“Inicijative preživjelih od mina” in Bosnian) continues to provide peer support and advocacy leadership for landmine survivors in Southeastern Europe.

Saharawi Association of Landmine Victims (www.facebook.com/ASAVIM): The Saharawi Association of Landmine Victims (Asociación Saharaui de Víctimas de Minas, ASAVIM) provides victim assistance and mine risk education services to Saharawi living in refugee camps in Algeria.  The Director of ASAVIM participated in the 2012 “Lend Your Leg” campaign.

 

Individuals

Firoz Alizada (Twitter: firozalizada): Firoz is the Campaign Manager for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (www.icbl.org) and a landmine survivor from Afghanistan.  Firoz lost both legs in 1996 when he was 13 and on his way to school.

Giles Duley (Twitter: @gilesduley, www.gilesduley.com): Giles is a photographer focusing on humanitarian projects after working in fashion and music.  In 2011, he lost both legs and an arm whilst on patrol with the US Army’s 75th Cavalry Regiment in Afghanistan.  He describes his experience in a TED Talk and in the Channel 4 feature, “Walking Wounded: Return to the Frontline.”

Stuart Hughes (Twitter: @stuartdhughes): Stuart is a news producer for the BBC.  He lost a leg in an explosion in Iraq during 2003’s Operation Iraqi Freedom.  In 2012, he carried the Olympic Torch as part of the relay prior to the London Olympics.

 

Channels

The Advocacy Project (www.AdvocacyNet.org): The Advocacy Project (AP) works with human rights and advocacy organizations to build their capacity to advocate for themselves.  AP volunteers establish blogs and social media channels for partner organizations and then trains them on their use.  In Vietnam, AP supports the Association for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities and in Uganda, AP supports the Gulu Disabled Persons Union which has links to the Uganda Landmine Survivors Association.

Landmine Victims Speak Up (www.Landmine-Victims.org): Created by a high school senior in North Carolina, Landmine Victims Speak Up provides a forum for Bosnian landmine victims to tell their stories.  I love that this site exists.

 

Video

YouTube (www.YouTube.com): YouTube is a video sharing site that has been extensively used by mine action organizations for awareness-raising and publicity efforts.  While the videos are produced by the organizations, the videos provide survivors with the (edited) opportunity to describe their lives, hopes and needs.  Some channels worth checking out are:

Another video-sharing site is VIMEO but many of the videos available on VIMEO are also available on YouTube (although there may be some deterioration in quality in the conversion from the higher-resolution, better produced material on VIMEO, to the lower-resolution, more accessible YouTube).

If you know of other Survivor Voices in the Internet, please let me know and I will update this list.

 

Michael P. Moore

February 25, 2013


Movie Review, “Surviving the Peace: Angola”

Last night I attended the United States premiere of the documentary, “Surviving the Peace: Angola,” produced by MAG America. The film, created by the firm Media Storm, demonstrates the impact of landmines on Angola and MAG’s efforts to rid the country of this scourge. Through three characters: Eron, a former soldier and now a deminer; Minga, an eight year-old girl who had been injured by a mine three years before the film was made; and Minga’s grandmother who raises her, the film shows hope (in the form of Eron), but also the terrible toll landmines can take on individuals (Minga), their families (her grandmother) and communities. The filmmakers inter-cut scenes of Minga and her grandmother with scenes of Eron working in the minefields.

In the scenes with Minga and her grandmother, we watch as Minga learns to read and write despite having been blinded by a mine. We hear how Minga’s grandmother fears for Minga’s future (she tells Minga that one day Minga will be on her own and have to care for herself), but also how Minga’s grandmother has lost her livelihood having to look after Minga full-time. Minga tells us how she was injured: in an all-too-frequently-told-story, Minga came upon a “tuna can” in a field and poked it with a stick. For dramatic effect, the filmmakers have been showing scenes of explosive disposal as Minga talks, culminating with the detonation of several shells and landmines, just as she tells us she poked the can with a stick. We see the blast of the unexploded ordnance as we are forced to think of a five-year old girl setting off a landmine in a field.

The film is part of a new campaign by MAG America to raise US $100,000 to support mine-risk education in Angola to help prevent future injuries like those Minga experienced.  In a brief segment of the film, we see MAG staff teaching a classroom of children from Minga’s village about the dangers of landmines and specifically using Minga’s experience as a cautionary tale.

Michael P. Moore

February 7, 2013


Beating the Better Mousetrap, Part 2

In 1997, a scientific meeting at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology agreed that “the most reliable demining method” was the use of a metal detector by a human operator.  However, the meeting also noted that metal detectors were subject to very high rates of false positives, with as many as one thousand false positives for every real landmine discovered.  The meeting also raised the fear of all-plastic mines which would be undetectable by even the most sophisticated metal detector (MIT Technology Review).

There have been two lines of response to these concerns: legal and technical.  The legal response is housed in the Amended Protocol II of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.  The Protocol states, in its technical annex, that all anti-personnel landmines produced after January 1, 1997 must be detectable by “commonly-available technical mine detection equipment,” such as a metal detector through the use of materials that would produce the same or stronger response as 8 grams of iron.  Any anti-personnel mines produced before January 1, 1997 must be retrofitted with materials or a device that would produce the same or stronger response as 8 grams of iron.  Unfortunately, states could defer compliance with the directive to retrofit pre-1997 mines for 9 years after entry into force of the Protocol, which meant that states had until December 3, 2007 to retrofit their plastic mines and states were only required “to the extent feasible, minimize the use” of plastic mines until that date (United Nations, pdf).  Therefore plastic anti-personnel mines could easily have been used for many years despite the legal response (and plastic anti-tank mines have never been regulated).

The technical response has been varied.  In our last post we covered some of the proposed solutions (bees, mice, nanofilms, oh my!), but other developments have also emerged.  The United States Navy has issued a call for prototypes of handheld landmine detectors capable of locating mines with little or no metallic content, basically plastic landmines.  The Navy feels that currently available landmine detectors “could be redesigned with lower size and weight with no loss in capability.”  The Navy wants these prototypes for use by Special Forces and not for the general public (Military & Aerospace Electronics), but if the technology is effective, I would hope it becomes available to humanitarian demining.  This call also made me curious about the current state of the art in metal detectors, so I did what anyone would do: I went to the local arms show.

Last year, I went to the Association of the United States Army’s (AUSA) exposition which is one of the largest arms shows in the world.  There I checked up on the new spider mine system designed as an alternative to persistent, victim-activated landmines. This year, I wanted to see the mine detection tools on offer and visited two vendors, CEIA-USA and Foerster. Both make similar devices that are widely used within the humanitarian demining community.

The Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining profiles the Foerster MINEX 2FD 4.530 metal detector (pictured below) (GICHD) and notes that it (or its variants) have been used in 30 countries, including Egypt, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Tunisia in Africa.  According to GICHD, “No significant limitations [have been] reported to date.”

 

Photo courtesy of the Author

The GICHD also profiles CEIA’s MIL-D1 which has 16,000 units in the field in many countries including Burundi, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Morocco, Namibia, Senegal, South Africa and Sudan.  Giovanni Giustino, the Sales Manager at the AUSA exposition, told me that CEIA’s products are used by Mechem, the South African demining organization and Mines Advisory Group has co-sponsored a Death Valley Challenge, a 200 mile cycling trip, with CEIA to raise funds (Mines Advisory Group).  Giustino was also kind enough to invite me to CEIA’s Italian headquarters for training in the use of their detectors, an offer I would love to be able to accept one day.

In addition to the MIL-D1, CEIA also showed me their MIL-D1/DS (pictured below) which is specially designed to locate unexploded ordnance like cluster munitions and is being used by Mines Advisory Group in Laos (Mines Advisory Group).

Both CEIA’s and Foerster’s metal detectors are “smart” machines with built-in electronics to adapt to, or “learn” the local soil conditions.  If the local soil is high in iron ore, the detectors will adjust and compensate to the background level rather than give off a continuous indication of the presence of metal.  Both manufacturers’ detectors can locate the minimum metal mines required under the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and their widespread usage and lack of known faults suggest that these and similar products will continue to be the basis of humanitarian demining.

One final note, barely 100 feet away from Foerster’s booth at the AUSA expo one could find Textron Systems booth; Textron being the manufacturer of the new alternative anti-personnel landmine system.  So within a few steps you could see the latest landmines and their detection systems.

 

Michael P. Moore, November 2, 2012


This Frisbee Clears Landmines Tournament, Wednesday July 4th, Washington, DC

Every year, thousands of men, women and children are killed or injured by landmines in dozens of countries around the world.  The only way to ensure that these injuries and accidents stop is to completely remove all landmines from the ground, an expensive and time-consuming process.  Well, we’re going to help get a few more landmines out of the ground and hopefully have a little fun doing it.

In honor of International Mine Action and Awareness day, I’m happy to announce that on Wednesday, July 4th 2012, LandminesinAfrica.org will host the “This Frisbee Clears Mines Tournament,” an Ultimate Frisbee tournament, with support from the Washington Area Frisbee Club to benefit Mines Advisory Group‘s landmine clearance activities.  The Tournament will take place at Anacostia Park in Washington, DC; all participants should arrive no later than 9:30 am for registration and team assignments.

The tournament is open to all and will follow a “Hat Tourney” format.  What’s a Hat Tourney, you say?  In a Hat Tourney, all the participants show up at 9:30 am, put their name in a hat and from that hat, names will be drawn to form 15-person teams.  Those teams will then be put into groups and play three games each.  If there are enough teams, we’ll have a final championship match.

Since the Tournament is on the Fourth and what’s the Fourth without a barbecue, we’ll have some grills going for lunch and snacks.  MAG will have a table in case you want to learn more about landmines and their work.

To register, you can either show up on the Tournament day with your $10 donation to Mines Advisory Group, or you can pre-register by making your $10 donation via Tournament’s dedicated First Giving page.  You should feel free to donate more, if you so choose or if you can’t make the tournament, but want to contribute, your support would be welcome.

For more information about the tournament, please email me at michael.patrick.moore@gmail.com.

For more information about Mines Advisory Group, please visit their webpage at www.maginternational.org/usa

For more information about Ultimate Frisbee and the Washington Area Frisbee Club, please visit WAFC’s webpage at www.wafc.org

For more information about landmines and mine action, as well as information about other landmine awareness raising activities, please visit the US Campaign to Ban Landmines webpage at www.uscbl.org, and the Lend Your Leg campaign website at www.lendyourleg.org

Thanks, and I look forward to seeing you on the 4th!

Michael P. Moore

www.LandminesinAfrica.org

michael.patrick.moore@gmail.com

Follow us on Twitter: @minesinafrica