Eight men and women from the Karen and Kayah ethnic groups in Mon state, Myanmar have completed a six-month training course in Cambodia. The newly trained staff then quickly went to work on an inaugural pilot survey project in Mon state.
These are significant steps forward for mine action in Myanmar where, despite being one of the most heavily mine-impacted countries in the world, no clearance to international standards has taken place.
The future mine action managers recruited by HALO and Norwegian People’s Aid were trained, tested and qualified in mine risk education, minefield survey, mine clearance, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, para-medicine and project management with HALO’s experienced training team in Cambodia.
The recruits were selected on account of their educational qualifications, language abilities and aptitude for the task ahead as well as their area of origin, as HALO recruits from within the mine impacted communities. Between them they speak five ethnic minority languages (Mon, Karenni and three flavors of Karen) as well as Burmese and English.
Concurrently, our management continued its work with the Myanmar Peace Centre, within which the Myanmar Mine Action Center is being established, to draft national mine action standards and pave the way forward for a full survey and mine clearance programme.
Landmines are concentrated in the States around Myanmar’s borders with Thailand after decades of war between the government and ethnic minority armed groups. Their presence hinders the safe return of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons and restricts livelihood opportunities. Mine action will be vital to peace-building efforts by facilitating the return to displaced people, improving economic opportunities in affected ethnic minority areas and increasing physical security.
HALO would like to extend its thanks to Actiefonds Mijnen Ruimen for funding this project. As HALO’s programme in Myanmar continues to expand, these staff will no doubt play an ever more prominent role over the coming years in steering their country towards the ultimate goal; a peaceful and mine-free Myanmar.