Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) and friends of The HALO Trust had the opportunity to try out landmine detection equipment at Holyrood on October 25 at an evening reception hosted by Joan McAlpine, Member of the Scottish Parliament for the South of Scotland constituency where HALO’s headquarters is located.
For many of the politicians, journalists, diplomats and business leaders present in the Garden Lobby of the Parliament building, the event was a first introduction to HALO’s operations and to Scotland’s leading role in clearing landmines and other debris of war. HALO employs over 6,000 people in 20 countries and territories, making it Scotland’s largest international charity.
In addition to Ms McAlpine, of the Scottish National Party, the reception was attended by Ruth Davidson MSP, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Colin Smyth MSP, the Labour Party member for the South of Scotland, and representatives from all of Holyrood ‘s political parties.
Ms Davidson said: “Great to see The HALO Trust in Parliament this evening and to support the tremendous work they do.”
The theme of the evening was Scotland’s role in clearing the debris of war. James Cowan, HALO’s CEO gave a briefing on HALO’s origins, in Afghanistan in 1988, and on the impact of HALO’s present operations on the safety and livelihoods of the people it serves. He also briefed guests on the future challenges HALO will face - including dealing with improvised explosive devices, known as IEDs, in recent theatres of conflict.
A discussion on the changing face of mine clearance and conflict was led by Sir Hew Strachan, the military historian and Professor of International Relations at St Andrews University. The reception also heard from Stanley Brown, Director of the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement at the US Department of State – the US is the largest single donor to mine clearance programmes around the globe.
Left to right: Dr Farid Homayoun, The HALO Trust's Afghanistan Desk Officer, demonstrates demining equipment to Ruth Davidson MSP, Joan McAlpine MSP, Stanley Brown, of the US Dept. of State, and Professor Sir Hew Strachan of St Andrews University. Photo by Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS.