Guatemala endured more than 36 years of internal conflict, which formally ended with the signing of the Peace Accords at the end of 1996. Rates of crime in Guatemala have since been very high. An average of 101 murders per week were reported in 2016, making the country's violent crime rate one of the highest in Latin America. In the 1990s Guatemala had four cities feature in Latin America's top ten cities by murder rate. Like other Central American countries, the proximity of Guatemala to the United States provides a natural route for arms trafficking.
A large number of weapons are still in circulation in the country, used by organized criminal groups for control of drug-trafficking routes – mainly to the United States. The proliferation of SA/LW has had devastating effects on local communities causing deaths and migration of civilians, both across the region and to the United States and Mexico.
The HALO Trust’s 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 United States Government. We aim to provide support for the clearance of the debris of war, disarmament and help with weapons and ammunition stockpile management.
With funding from the United States Government, HALO’s objective is to upgrade and restore explosive storehouses and armouries, to prevent unplanned detonations, which have happened before in Guatemala, and to secure the items stored inside.
HALO aims to work 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with the local armed forces to carry out the destruction of civil war-era weapon parts and explosive debris that are outdated or obsolete and are a source of risk to the population.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 intends to provide training in explosive ordnance disposal to local Guatemalan authorities.
HALO Guatemala is liaising closely with the US Embassy in Guatemala and has been welcomed and actively supported by the Ministry of Defence. To date, HALO has established relationships with the Armed Forces and the National Civilian Police, and will continue to build relationships with local stakeholders.