El Salvador

History

Between 1979 and 1999 El Salvador endured a civil war that divided the country along political lines. Hundreds of people died during the conflict, including members of the military and guerrilla fighters, but the most affected group were rural civilians. Communities in the countryside were caught in the middle of the war because most of the fighting took place outside of the cities.
 
During the war, millions of Salvadorians fled the country, moving to the United States of America. By 1980 Salvadorians were one of the largest minority group in the US and in some cities started forming groups that initially were intended to defend their communities from inner-city violence. In some locations, these groups morphed into gangs whose original purpose had been lost and whose main activities revolved around crime and violence. The US Government started deporting Salvadorians convicted of gang-related crimes back to El Salvador.
 

Problem

The Salvadorian civil war saw a large number of weapons imported into the country. Those still remain and contribute to high levels of crime and violence in the country. In addition, gang culture has spread to become a major social and economic issue - feeding violence and the spread of organized crime.
 

Solution

The HALO Trust started operations in El Salvador in October 2017. Our mission is to work with the armed forces, including the military and the national civil police, as part of a security strengthening initiative from the US State Department. We aim to provide support for the clearance of the debris of war, disarmament and help with weapons and ammunition stockpile management.

Funded by the US State Department's division of weapons abatement (PM/WRA), HALO aims to upgrade and restore explosive storehouses and armouries, to prevent unplanned detonations, which have happened before in El Salvador, and to secure the items stored inside. Also, HALO is working closely with the local armed forces to carry out the destruction of civil war-era weapon parts and explosive debris that are outdated or obsolete and are a source of risk to the population. Finally, HALO aims to provide training in both explosive ordnance disposal and physical security and stockpile management to local Salvadorean authorities.
 

Next Steps

HALO's mission has been warmly welcomed by the El Salvadorean authorities and supported by the US Embassy in El Salvador. We are currently building our team and planning our deployment and destruction plans in collaboration with the armed forces.