During a trip to Somaliland this week to work with the Somaliland Parliament, as part of a project run by The Association of European Parliamentarians for Africa (AWEPA), Lord Boateng paid a visit to The HALO Trust’s mine clearance programme. This was Lord Boateng’s second visit to HALO in Somaliland in 2011.
Lord Boateng was a Labour Member of the British Parliament for 18 years during which time he served as a Cabinet Minister. On his departure from Parliament, Lord Boateng served as the British High Commissioner to South Africa from 2005 to 2009, before being inducted into the House of Lords in 2010. Lord Boateng has been and continues to be an active supporter of several charitable causes in both the UK and Africa.
During this visit Lord Boateng travelled to a minefield that HALO is clearing in the area of Abaarso, 30km west of Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland. The minefield was laid during the civil war in the 1980s, causing an accident in 1991 when three cows were killed after one stepped on an anti-tank landmine. The minefield is located in a rural agricultural area of Somaliland where families are often solely reliant on growing maize or raising livestock to provide a source of income. Since the mines were laid over twenty years ago, the minefield has blocked a road that runs through the maize fields. Not only has this meant local farmers have had to make a long detour to reach their markets, but the landmines have prevented families from expanding their crops on to new land.
During the visit to the minefield, Lord Boateng spoke to a local family who live next to the minefield. The head of the family explained to him the horrific impact the minefield was having on his family and his livelihood.
Following the visit Lord Boateng said:
The work of HALO’s male and female deminers in Somaliland is having a clear and positive impact on those communities who have had to live with the threat of landmines for far too long. The contribution of HALO to the development of Somaliland is truly impressive.
More information about The HALO Trust’s work in Somaliland is available here.