Somaliland: Halo Trust Commits to Long-term Demining Program

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VP Sayli flanked by  Halo Trust executives at the Hargeisa presidency “Your achievements of the last five years give us the impetus to sustain our engagement in the country” Mr. Willoughby

By: Yusuf M Hasan

HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – The Halo Trust has been commended for its successful demining activities that have gone a long way towards saving lives.

This gratitude’s were expressed by the vice president Hon Abdirahman Ismail Sayli during a meeting with the Halo Trust CEO Mr. Guy Willoughby at the Hargeisa president where VP Sayli is currently holding the fort for his boss who is on an official tour of duty in Turkey.

While congratulating Halo Trust for its demining activities that have helped saved many innocent civilian lives, VP Sayli urged the British oHalo Trust Demining activitiesrganization to commit further thus cover remaining parts of the country.

Said he, “Our country was once one of the most mined area in the world thus urge an extension of your demining activities that have in the past saved hundreds of lives”

VP Sayli who informed that the deactivated mines have not only saved human lives but livestock as well said the country owes Halo Trust demining activities for economic development as a result of livestock saved and grazing areas made safe.

On his part the visiting CEO of Halo Trust Mr. Guy Willoughby said that the achievements garnered by Somaliland since his visit five years ago is an impetus for long term commitment to demining activities.

Mr. Willoughby who congratulated the country in various achievements harvested in the span of five years said he was amazed by the very conducive security prevalent compared to other countries in the horn region where Halo Trust operates.

Said he, “Apart from the apt peace and security prevailing Aim amazed by how fast Somaliland has develop especially in the construction of modern high rise buildings”

The Halo Trust boss who informed that his organization which started demining activities in the country in 1999 said that they currently employ over 600 staffers from the local community who are well versed with demining skills, a number they hope to increase.

About Halo Trust in Somaliland

Somaliland is an unrecognized de facto independent state located in northwest Somalia in the Horn of AfricHalo Trust in Somaliland since 1999a.

Mine-laying occurred during the 1964 and 1977-78 border wars with Ethiopia, when minefields were laid predominantly along the Ethiopian border. This border and important access routes were heavily mined. Between 1981 and 1991, the Somali National Movement (SNM), a rebel army of mostly northern Somali followers, waged an armed insurrection against the regime of Mohamed Said Barre, which saw use of landmines against the civilian population, their homes and farmlands. The civil war caused large scale population displacement from the principal cities of Hargeisa, Burao and Berbera. The conflict, which had its roots in grievances over power sharing and the state control of economic assets, was portrayed by the government as a struggle between SNM nationalists (defending Somaliland’s independence) and government federalists advocating a relationship with Somalia.

The most recent use of landmines in Somaliland took place between 1994 and 1995, when militias opposed to the regime of Somaliland President Mohamed Ibrahim Egal and loyalist forces fought fierce battles south and east of Hargeisa (the capital).In 2009 the House of Representatives approved legislation banning the use of anti-personnel mines.

HALO’s programme in Somaliland was established in 1999 and employs over 500 national staff members. HALO operates 41 manual clearance sections, two battle area clearance (BAC) sections, four survey / explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams, six mechanical teams and one mines risk education (MRE) team. These are deployed across Somaliland from Awdal region in the north-west to the regions of Sool and Sanaag in the east.

Besides conducting clearance for humanitarian benefits, HALO is also addressing the problem of explosive security. A pilot Weapons and Ammunition Disposal (WAD) programme has been established to work with both the police and the military on this issue.

Since the start of 2007, HALO has been conducting a re-assessment to identify the remaining mines problem and the assets required to clear the remaining mine and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) problem in a reasonable time frame.

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