The Duke of Sussex has written to HALO's 8,500 staff to express his admiration at their ‘dedication and determination’ in the face of the Covid-19 crisis. Prince Harry knows many of our employees after several visits to minefields with The HALO Trust.
He was moved to write on learning that HALO staff have remained in countries such as Afghanistan, Somalia and Libya to clear landmines while pivoting operations to respond to the coronavirus.
Prince Harry writes: “In these trying times, hope comes from the light of our common humanity. Nowhere is that light burning brighter than at The HALO Trust. As countries closed their borders, lockdowns came into force and international travel became harder, many might have chosen to suspend operations. Instead, HALO kept open a presence in all 25 of its country operations.”
The Duke visited HALO’s operations in Angola in September 2019 when retraced the footsteps of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, who visited a minefield being cleared by HALO in 1997. “What a difference a few months can make,” he writes.
“HALO might just have stuck to its core role, but I would also like to salute you for pivoting so quickly to meet the challenges unexpectedly presented by the pandemic.”
HALO staff have been providing ambulances, hygiene kits and PPE to fragile medical systems in the countries where it works. It has also translated its expertise in teaching people to be safe around landmines to giving health education information.
Prince Harry added: “The fact that you can operate across conflict affected countries like Afghanistan is also a precious resource in the face of a disease that recognises no frontlines.”
“It is at times like this that the work and efforts of people like you – prepared to do whatever it takes to help, serve and protect others – shines through. In sometimes hazardous and dangerous situations, your commitment to your communities and people who need your help is remarkable. I am hugely proud to be able to support such an extraordinary organisation.”
James Cowan, HALO’s CEO said: "It is very thoughtful of the Duke to write to HALO staff in this way. Not many people realise we do more than landmine clearance. In responding to Covid we have the skills and equipment to respond. And above all we can operate in some very dangerous places with the trust of the local people."
The Duke of Sussex has visited minefields with the HALO Trust in Mozambique in 2010 and Angola in 2013 and 2019.
In 2019 the Duke visited Dirico in Southern Angola around the watershed of the Okavango Delta to witness how landmine clearance can protect wildlife in one of Africa’s largest remaining wilderness areas. He also visited the city of Humabo to see how the minefield visited by his mother in 1997 is now a thriving community.
HALO has been providing ambulances and logistics to medical authorities in Zimbabwe, Somalia, Libya, Afghanistan, Guinea Bissau. In Syria and Myanmar HALO has been providing hygiene kits, PPE and health education to camps for families displaced by conflict. In Cambodia HALO’s teams have reached over half a million people with health information on Covid.