Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

SRI LANKA: Mine clearance could take 10 years or more

IRIN Humanitarian News and Analysis

COLOMBO, 6 February 2012 (IRIN) – Landmine clearance in Sri Lanka’s conflict-affected north could take more than a decade, experts say.

“It is expected to take [in] excess of 10 years to fully mitigate all remaining contamination in Sri Lanka,” the Mine Action Project of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Sri Lanka told IRIN, citing a lack of resources coupled with the difficult nature of the work.

Approximately 126 sqkm of land remains to be cleared in the island’s north at the end of 2011, according to data from the National Mine Action Centre (NMAC).

Set up in July 2010, NMAC is the government’s lead agency in de-mining work in the country.

As of 31 December 2011, the largest remaining area was in Mannar District (33.8 sqkm), followed by Mullaitivu (27.7 sqkm), Kilinochchi (23 sqkm), Vavuniya (15 sqkm) and Jaffna (5 sqkm) in the north.

Smaller areas are in borderline districts of Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura, along with some parts of the east.

Barrier to return

More than 6,700 conflict-displaced, mainly from Mullaitivu District, continue to live at Menik Farm outside the town of Vavuniya, where more than 200,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) once lived following the end of the war between government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which had been fighting for an independent Tamil homeland since 1983.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), since 1 January 2009, more than 554 sqkm have been cleared of mines and UXO (unexploded ordnance) in the north and east of the country.

The humanitarian demining unit of the Sri Lanka Army, international organizations – Danish Demining Group (DDG), HALO Trust, Horizon, Mines Advisory Group (MAG), Sarvatra, and Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD)] – and two national organizations – Delvon Assistance for Social Harmony (DASH) and the Milinda Moragoda Institute for Peoples’ Empowerment (MMIPE)] – are engaged in demining work.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) carries out mine risk awareness programmes in the north and east.

Please see the original and read more of this article here

February 6, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Demining, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Explosive Remnants of War, Humanitarian Assistance, Landmines, Mine Clearance, Sri Lanka, United Nations | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

U.S. Is Paying European Teams to Hunt Stray Munitions in Libya

The two groups hired by the State Department are the Mines Advisory Group of Britain and the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action.

AP at The New York Times   June 17, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States is paying British and Swiss mine-clearing groups nearly $1 million to search for loose antiaircraft missiles in Libya and dispose of them, so they do not fall into the hands of terrorist groups.

The State Department’s hiring of the teams was prompted by fears that terrorists could use scavenged man-portable air defense systems, known as Manpads, to attack civilian aircraft around the world.

The Libyan military had amassed nearly 20,000 of the weapons before the popular uprising began in March. Most of them are still held by the government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, but some bases and ammunition dumps in contested or rebel-held areas have been looted, and an unknown number of the weapons have gone astray.

The search teams, who will also keep an eye out for mines and other deadly munitions, will be allowed to work in rebel-held areas away from active combat zones. American and allied authorities have told Libyan opposition figures that their cooperation would be a factor in decisions about future aid, according to American and United Nations officials who are familiar with the discussions.

“From the U.S. point of view, it was an issue of paramount importance,” said Justin Baker, officer-in-charge of the United Nations Mine Action Service, which is overseeing the weapons disposal effort in Libya. “The Libyans seemed to get the big picture of what was necessary to present a credible international face.”

Please read the entire article here

June 18, 2011 Posted by | Demining, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Landmines, Libya, Mine Clearance, State Department | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

LAOS: Female deminers attract fans but little funding

Photo: Phuong Tran/ IRIN Female deminers -- lots of photos, but not so much funding

At Irin Humanitarian News and Analysis

XIENGKHUANG, 4 January 2011 (IRIN) – In the two years since the Laos government set up the first team of women clearing unexploded ordnance (UXO), they have had lots of attention, but this has not translated into increased funding, says the UN, which is supporting government programmes.

“It was quite in vogue with donors to have all-female teams,” said John Dingley, the UN’s senior technical adviser working with the government’s UXO Lao clearance programme. “But more than that, these are good jobs and we want to create as many opportunities as possible for women in post-conflict settings.”

However, UXO Lao faces a US$1.4 million funding shortfall.

Laos is the most heavily bombed country, per capita, after more than two million tons of UXO – mostly cluster bomblets – were dropped between 1964 and 1973, according to the government’s National Regulatory Authority for UXO/Mine Action.

While there have been women working in the government’s clearance operation since it began in 1996, the government only started grouping all-female teams (albeit with a male mechanic/driver) in 2008, following the lead of the British demining NGO, Mines Advisory Group (MAG), which has worked in the country since 1994 and launched all-female UXO clearance teams in Laos in 2007.

Lou McGrath, MAG’s chief executive, described MAG’s “ladies first” initiative as a “genuine move to redress gender balance in the UXO sector”. Please read the entire article here

January 4, 2011 Posted by | Demining, NGO's | , , , , , | Leave a comment

US donates $200,000 for demining operations in south Mine Clearer Killed, several wounded

The Daily Star Lebanon Wednesday October 27

BEIRUT: The Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs awarded $200,000 to Lebanon’s Mines Advisory Group (MAG), a US Embassy statement said Tuesday.

The donation was part of a two-to-one matching grant for sub-munitions clearance with the American Task Force for Lebanon (ATFL), which raised $100,000 in private donations in September.

Since August 2006, the United Nations reports that there have been 44 fatalities and 298 injuries from explosive remnants of Lebanon’s summer 2006 war with Israel.

“More than half of the land contaminated by explosive remnants of the 2006 summer war has already been cleared by MAG and other demining organizations, thanks to generous donors, including ATFL and the United States government,” the embassy statement said.

According to the statement, the grant provided by the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement and the funds raised by the ATFL supported battle area clearance operations by six MAG mine action teams for over one month, including mechanical clearance. These teams cleared more than 112,000 square meters of land.

One mine clearer was killed and several others wounded Monday when cluster bomb fragments exploded amid removal work in south Lebanon. – The Daily Star

October 27, 2010 Posted by | Demining, State Department | , , , , , | Leave a comment