On the 1st November, a ceremony took place to mark the handover of Chognari minefield located in Imereti Region, Georgia, following HALO’s successful clearance work. In total, 985,654 square metres of land, where mines had claimed the lives of three local people, have now been declared safe.
The Chognari minefield was part of a former Soviet military base—mined by the Russian military in 1991 using anti-personnel mines. In 1995, due to the poor storage of ammunition, there was an accident that scattered unexploded ordnance across the local area, making it even more dangerous.
HALO began work at the base in March 2016 with funding from the US Department of State and the Japanese Government as part of the ‘Grassroots Human Security Projects.’ Thanks to $1.2 million of funding, Chognari minefield has now been made safe, battle area clearance operations at Udabno (a former Soviet firing range) have been finalised and technical survey work has been carried out along the administrative boundary line with Tskhinvali Region.
During HALO’s work to clear Chognari, 24 anti-personnel mines were destroyed, along with 130 items of unexploded ordnance, and 1,227 items of inert ammunition. This not only removes the immediate danger of injury but also, by opening up previously unsafe land, has a far-reaching impact on the civilian population. It is estimated that making Chognari safe will benefit more than 145,000 people. The Government of Georgia has since started investing in this territory—building two water reservoirs to supply pure drinking water to the town of Kutaisi and its 142,000 inhabitants.
This is an important milestone for Georgia and was celebrated at a ceremony hosted by Irakli Chitanava, HALO’s Programme Manager for Georgia, and attended by Deputy US Chief of Mission, Elizabeth Rood, and Japanese Ambassador to Georgia, Mr Tadaharu Uehara. The HALO Trust is very grateful for the continued support of both the Government of Japan and the United States of America in their work in Georgia.