The HALO Trust completes cluster munition clearance in Georgia

On the 5th December 2009 HALO completed the clearance of cluster munitions and other items of unexploded ordnance left behind from the August 2008 conflict in Georgia.

The programme was launched within days of the cessation of fighting and it resulted in a total of 3,402 hectares of land across 22 communities being returned to productive use and the safe clearance and destruction of 1,706 cluster munitions and 2,031 other items of ordnance.

HALO worked directly with development partners Danish Refugee Council, GTZ and UNHCR to facilitate the safe rehabilitation of housing and the building of temporary homes, and with CNFA to target USAID agricultural assistance appropriately. The latter resulted in the region’s best ever wheat and apple harvests.

The programme employed 291 Georgian national staff and was funded by the US Department of State, the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO), the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the German Foreign Ministry.

In addition to the clearance programme an emergency risk education programme was immediately launched to provide instruction in the risks posed by explosive remnants of war (ERW) to over 20,000 returnees, all schools in the districts affected by and adjacent to the ground fighting, aid workers, embassy staff and European Union monitors. This programme was funded by UNICEF and the US Department of State.

"The HALO Trust developed and executed a model emergency ERW plan", said Dennis Hadrick, Program Manager at the State Department's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement. "It provided immediate assistance to innocent civilians and relief workers and allowed many displaced persons to return to their homes more quickly and safely than we have ever seen before in post-conflict operations."

HALO continues to clear mines and ERW in the Upper Kodori region of Abkhazia where clearance is expected to be completed by the end of 2010, and has now begun clearance of the minefields in Georgia known as the Soviet legacy minefields.