During the Somaliland ‘War of Independence’ (1988-1991) the area around the Hargeisa airport was the site of heavy fighting between the Somali National Army (SNA) and the Somali National Movement (SNM). The SNA laid a large defensive minefield on the southern side of the airport to protect against attack from the SNM.
HALO has been clearing the mine contaminated land to the south of the airport intermittently since 2004 and was completed in 2014.
This has involved clearing 697,797m² (172.4 acres) of mine contaminated ground around the airport using both manual and mechanical assets, destroying 77 AP mines, 228 items of UXO and 228 items of stray ammunition.
The clearance has brought tangible economic benefits to an area which was previously economically inactive. Land values have increased by a factor of ten in some areas and new jobs have been created in construction.
Hawaya Hassan lived within 15m of the minefield for most of her life. Her mother Fatamo Jamma lost a leg to an AP mine while herding goats in 2010. The family owns no animals and her husband Hassan is one of the 61% of the urban population of Somaliland who is unemployed.
The family supported themselves and their two children by borrowing money from their extended family, using their land as collateral, at an approximate value of $3000-$7000 per Somaliland block (90m² by 48m²). However, prior to clearance, they were unable to sell any land which extended into the mined area.
Since HALO completed clearance, land value in the area has increased dramatically. In January 2014, blocks of land were selling for up to $30,000. Thanks to HALO’s clearance, the Hassan family now has a landholding worth $240,000. Once they have sold their land, they plan to move to centre of Hargeisa, start a business and send their children to school, transforming all their lives for the better.
Fatumo Yusef has lost two of her nine children to separate fatal landmine accidents. In addition to this unimaginable pain, two of her surviving children have suffered amputations due to mine accidents. Before HALO cleared the minefield, she lived in constant fear of further landmine tragedies.
HALO has been able to help the family in their hardship, by employing Fatumo’s son Mahed Yusef as a cook. Ten years later, Mahed is now a supervisor of a Manual Unit Section and works across the whole of Somaliland.
The money given to HALO to clear Somaliland is really worth it. WE have cleared a lot of land and saved a lot of lives
Despite his family’s initial fear for his safety, Mahed believes his career with HALO has been vital to securing the safety of Somaliland’s people. His income from HALO supports 19 members of his family.
Meanwhile the value of Fatumo’s land has increased from around $3000 a block to an estimated $30,000, which should bring the family capital of around $300,000.
Mohamed Aden lives in Hargeisa, but uses the land that HALO has cleared for grazing for his herd of 20 sheep and 13 goats worth approximately $1,980. Mohamed’s only form of income is from his animals and he is the sole breadwinner for his wife and ten children. His camel (worth approximately $800) was killed in the minefield in 2009 which had a serious financial impact on his family.