HALO Somalia has passed a huge milestone - finding its first landmine in southern Somalia on 4 February 2017.
After months of painstaking survey work in a region where mine densities are often low, but render huge areas of land unusable, HALO began actively clearing mines in late 2016.
A HALO team surveyed the minefield - designated 006 by HALO Somalia - near Mohamed Ga’al, in northern Hirshabelle State, in September 2016. Local people drew attention to an area in which a number of accidents happened in the early 2000s.
Residents of the village and surrounding farmsteads have since avoided the area when they travel or graze their animals.
The minefields were laid in 1985 to defend Dabridka military camp, outside of Mahamed Ga’al village, near the Somalia-Ethiopian border. Anti-vehicle mines are also likely to be found in the minefield.
Landmines are a major problem in impoverished rural Somalia, where life is already difficult for local people and access to the land crucial for their livelihoods. Humanitarian demining brings lasting, positive benefits to mine-affected communities.
HALO Somalia survey teams began their work along the Somalia-Ethiopian border in the Spring of 2015. Now with the deployment of clearance teams to minefield 006, HALO employs over 160 people in Somalia and is poised to grow.
The first cleared mine on any mine action programme is a moment to celebrate. HALO is grateful for the hard work of our national staff, and the collaboration of the Somali Explosive Management Authority (SEMA), and SEMA-Hirshabelle Mine Action Center (HIRMAC). We also must thank the governments of Japan, the United Kingdom, and Germany, without whose generous support this milestone would not have been reached.