The Republic of Somaliland recorded a sharp drop in landmine-related accidents in 2008 compared with 2007, a mine clearance organization official has said.
Hassan Ahmed Kosar, operations officer for the Halo Trust, the only international mine clearance organization currently operating in Somaliland, said 15 accidents – down from 45 in 2007 – were recorded in Somaliland in 2008.
“Most of the accidents were caused by unexploded ordnance [UXO] and anti-tank mines planted in roads during the confrontation between the SNM [Somali National Movement – the liberation organization in Somaliland between 1981 and 1991] and [former Somali President] Siyad Barre’s regime in the late 1980s, as well as during the Ogaden war between Somalia and Ethiopia in the late 1970s,” Kosar told IRIN on 22 December in Somaliland’s capital, Hargeisa.
Kosar said Somaliland was one of five unrecognized nations to have signed the international landmine ban treaty, adding that the government had destroyed 3,014 anti-personnel mines in its stores in 2003.
He said the Halo Trust had destroyed more than 3,614 landmines or UXO, 90,694 small arms, and 37,760 anti-tank mines since 1999.
According to the Somaliland Mine Action Centre (SMAC), a government body, over two million mines were planted in Somaliland between 1964 and 1990.
Abdirahman Yusuf, a SMAC operations officer, said: “According to the last survey – conducted in collaboration with international mine clearance organizations, particularly the Halo Trust – over 600 roads were mined during the war; there are also 300 minefields scattered throughout the country.”
International demining efforts
Demining operations have been going on in Somaliland since 1991.
Rimfire, a UK-based mine clearance organization, began its first demining project in Somaliland in 1992-1993, clearing over 64,000 landmines and UXO.
“We are much bigger than Rimfire in terms of manpower and we also use modern demining equipment,” the Halo Trust’s Kosar said.
In 2003 the Danish Demining Group (DDG) cleared landmines from 300 roads. Santa Barbara, an international mine clearance organization, was also active in Somaliland from 2000-2002.
The Halo Trust is carrying out a new landmine survey due for completion in late 2009. Kosar made a plea for more international funding to speed up mine clearance operations.
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