For the people of Bangui, capital city of the Central African Republic, the return to everyday activities such as going to the market is a welcome relief after years of uncertainty and conflict. But the legacy of war can continues to wreak havoc on seemingly the most average of days.
Take one Thursday last February, when the bustling market of the PK5 district was suddenly plunged into chaos by the discovery of a RG4 hand grenade lying in the middle of the street with its pin removed. According to shoppers, it had been deliberately thrown at somebody earlier in the day, but had failed to explode. This created an immediate hazard to the crowds of shoppers as moving the item out of a public space would cause it to explode. There was no choice but to destroy the grenade there and then.
Fortunately, the HALO CAR team were called to the scene. Working closely with the UNMAS and UN security team and local civilians, the market was evacuated of hundreds of people. HALO’s EOD operator prepared the arena and used a small explosive charge to demolish the grenade safely, causing no human injury or damage to property. The market returned to normal within minutes.
The Thursday market grenade illustrates just some of the challenges facing countries that are emerging out of conflict and seeking stability. Even in period of relative peace, a grenade can be picked up for as little as $0.45 at the local arms market, jeopardising hundreds of people going about their daily lives. By dealing immediately with explosive ordnance and other remnants of war, the HALO Trust is helping the CAR on the road to peace and security.
The destruction of the grenade in the market (courtesy of MINUSCA)