Ambassador Bradley Sawden from New Zealand visited The HALO Trust programme in Fallujah on 29 September to see the work being done to make the city safe from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other dangerous debris left behind by recent conflict.
Through the support of the New Zealand government, The HALO Trust has trained and employs 24 Iraqi men and women. The team clears IEDs using manual methods as well as armoured mechanical equipment in Shuhaada in South Fallujah. HALO is working in the city to clear buildings, fields and streets and to allow displaced people to return home, businesses to start up again and schools to open safely.
New Zealand, the first donor of the HALO Trust in Iraq, also supports the work a HALO survey team that actively records the threats local people face. One of their first jobs was to mark a route that is safe for children to take when they started school again this month. The HALO team teaches children and parents about dangerous items in the neighbourhood and gives lessons in safe behaviour in an area that is littered with explosives and rubble. The schools started again in Iraq on 1 October.
While most areas in Iraq have been liberated from ISIS, many remain contaminated with boobytraps, IEDs and other explosive remnants of war. Almost two million people remain displaced in Iraq and the dangers of unexploded debris is one of the main things preventing them from returning home to rebuild.