In the cities and towns of Syria, Iraq and Yemen people are living surrounded by landmines, improvised explosive devices and other explosives. HALO’s work is urgently needed and in order to respond quickly we are adapting information technologies to provide remote supervision in areas unsafe for international experts. We are also developing new methods of assessment and clearance in urban areas.
HALO guides locally-recruited staff using 21st century communication tools. With drone footage, instant messaging apps and live feed cameras, our remote operations room outside of Syria supervises our ground teams through the process of assessing and destroying explosives.
Busra al Sham is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in southern Syria. It is home to ruins from the Roman, Byzantine and early Islamic era. It was also the site of fighting in 2015 which caused damage to the ancient monuments. We were called to the ruins to deal with an unexploded shell in December 2017.
Given the historic nature of the site, disposal of the shell was a challenge requiring specialist international supervision. Our remote management helped the ground team assess the situation and produce a plan for destroying the shell, before overseeing its safe demolition—without causing any more damage to Syria’s battered heritage.
It is just a single example of how HALO is harnessing new technology to tackle the huge contamination of Syria after eight years of strife. It also illustrates how even the most dangerous places were able to make a difference.
We also have years of experience in adapting technology, such as mechanised quarrying and earth moving equipment and we are forging relationships with plant machinery manufacturers.
Our remote management and technological innovations are needed to deal with similar problems in places like Iraq, Yemen and Libya. We have done this work before. Today 1.5 million people have homes and access to hospitals and schools in West Kabul because we pioneered urban clearance methods there in the 1990s.
Using remote management and modern machinery, combined with our decades of experience working safely in post-conflict zones—HALO can make the shattered towns of the Middle East safe again—if we have the right support.