The University of Coimbra in Portugal has received a mechanical leg up from Kitchener Ontario-based Clearpath Robotics.
The Canadian robotics company has donated a mobile robotic base to the University to aid in their research on automated landmine removal.
The donation was made through Clearpath’s grant program “Partnerbot,” part of Clearpath’s ongoing commitment to supporting university research teams. The team at Coimbra hopes to program the robot to analyze and navigate terrain, and to detect and disable buried mines. For its part, the donated base ‘bot is equipped with navigation sensors, ground penetrating radar and metal detecting arm.
The Government of Japan has provided a total sum of US$1,248,046 (approximately Rs. 160 million) in grant aid for humanitarian demining in Northern Sri Lanka under its Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project (GGP).
The ‘Project for Humanitarian Mine Action for Livelihood Recovery in Northern Sri Lanka’, implemented by Mines Advisory Group (MAG) has been provided a sum of US$ 591,447 (approximately Rs. 77 million) while the ‘Project for Peace Building through Demining in Northern Sri Lanka’ implemented by Delvon Assistance for Social Harmony Sri Lanka (DASH) has been provided a sum of US$656,599 (approximately Rs. 86 million) both of which would contribute to expedite the efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka to make mine contaminated areas safe lands for people to return and resume their livelihood.
Japan has been a major donor supporting mine clearance in Sri Lanka to accelerate the return and resettlement of Internal Displaced Persons (IDPs) and to facilitate recommencement of agriculture and other livelihood activities of returnees. Since 2003, the Government of Japan has provided a sum of US$27 million for demining activities in the North and the East under its Grant Assistance schemes.
The Human Security Award is presented each year to an individual who distinguished themself as a proponent for the enablement and protection of the world’s most vulnerable communities. In addition to accepting the award and an honorarium of $750, Rutherford will deliver a keynote speech at CUSA’s 2013–2014 Human Security Award Ceremony, which is scheduled to take place in May 2014.
Smoke from the controlled detonation of improvised explosive devices rises behind a U.S. Marine Corps mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle in Afghanistan. (AFP)
The head of the US military’s counter-IED organization sees the group’s mission possibly expanding despite the physical size of the organization declining in the coming year.
In the coming months, Lt. Gen. John Johnson, director of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO), must present his case for institutionalizing the organization, which was borne over the past decade of counterinsurgency-oriented wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
While he does this, Johnson must reduce his staff from about 3,000 — when he entered the job six months ago — to 1,000 by the end of September.
KABUL (TCA) — Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior (MoI) has opened its first special school to train police officers on defusing improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the biggest conflict-related threat to civilians in the country, according to UNAMA’s press-release.
“One of the biggest challenges for people and military forces (in Afghanistan) is IEDs,” said the head of the engineering section of the MoI’s IED disposal team, General Mohammahd Anwar Paigham, at the school’s opening ceremony held in the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Wednesday.
According to the latest Protection of Civilians report of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), the indiscriminate and unlawful use of IEDs by anti-Government elements remains the biggest conflict-related threat to civilians, responsible for 35 per cent of deaths and injuries during the first half of 2013. With 443 civilians killed and 917 injured by IEDs, it was a 34 per cent increase compared to IED-caused casualties recorded during the same period in 2012.
Denis Aabo Sørensen lost his left hand nine years ago, while handling fireworks. Since then, he has used prosthetic hands, but never one like this. Last year, a team of European engineers created for him a prosthetic hand that connects directly to the remaining nerves in his upper arm. That means the hand is able to send sensations of touch back through his arm and into his brain. Plus, when Sørensen wanted to grab something, he could move the hand by simply thinking about it.
"The sensory feedback was incredible," Sørensen said in a statement. "When I held an object, I could feel if it was soft or hard, round or square."
"I could feel things that I hadn’t been able to feel in over nine years," he said.
Deadline for R&D submissions for our summer issue is 15 February
Do you have a new or improved method of demining? Have you recently tested a new technology for use in mine or ERW clearance?
The Journal of ERW and Mine Action is accepting articles for its peer reviewed Research & Development section. All technical/scientific articles on new technologies or methodologies for mine and ERW detection and clearance will be considered for publication.
R&D submissions should be no longer than 3,000 words. Images, graphics, charts and figures should accompany submissions as needed.
Hurry! The deadline for submissions for our summer issue is 15 February. R&D articles for future issues are also accepted on a rolling basis, so please do not let the deadline stop you from submitting your article.
The U.S. government is being urged to conclude a review of national policy on landmines that has dragged on for more than four years, a lag that some say has indirectly led to the injury or death of more than 16,000 people.
Rights and advocacy groups are now mounting a new campaign to urge President Barack Obama to finish the review, hold true to pledges that have been lingering for years, and formally join an international treaty to ban antipersonnel mines. In a letter sent to the president on Friday and publicly circulated on Monday, critics of U.S. policy on the issue urged the administration to sign on to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and to move to begin to destroy the millions of landmines that remain in the country’s stockpiles.
“Your administration’s review is now into its fifth year, and it is hard to understand why the process should be delayed any further, particularly after the administration said more than one year ago that the review would conclude ‘soon’,” the letter, signed by 17 rights, watchdog and advocacy groups on behalf of several hundred civil society organizations, states.
The Control Group lends a helping hand to amputees
There are more than 300,000 victims of land mines and 20 percent of them are children. The Control Group, a Pacific Beach based tech company, recently took a break and built prosthetic hands for the amputees who need them.
"Excited is definitely the right word for it," said Sean Shahrokhi of the Control Group. “For the most part we’re sitting there in a very virtual environment. This is something that is actually tangible, we can hand it over to someone … There’s a little bit of magic to that.”
Each hand begins as 30 pieces of metal and plastic. Over the course of a couple of hours, it will turn into a prosthetic hand that can grip tightly enough to hold a pen, and has a wide enough grasp to grab an arm. The teams of employees who build the prosthetics wear blue mitts on one hand — so they can experience the difficulty many of these land mine victims can experience performing basic tasks.
15,000 to 20,000 people—predominantly women, children, and the elderly—die from landmines every year. These explosive man-traps have been used in every major military conflict since 1938 and some 110 million mines are still spread over 78 countries worldwide. What’s more, they remain functional decades after a conflict has ended and civilians return to the area. The results are dismemberment if you’re lucky, death if you’re not.
However, after years of campaigning by NGOs and individuals, the 161 UN member states adopted the Ottawa Treaty, effectively outlawing the use of persistent mines in all future conflicts. The US is not a member of the Ottawa Treaty but has instead enacted a similar domestic policy called the 2004 National Landmine Policy which prohibits the use of “any persistent landmines — neither anti-personnel nor anti-vehicle — anywhere after 2010.” That’s not to say all landmines are right out, the XM-7 Spider smart mine conveniently works cleanly around the Pentagon’s directives.
The Spider system is actually quite ingenious, effectively and automatically disarming itself once a conflict subsides while remaining uber-lethal for the duration of the engagement. What’s more, it can be loaded with lethal or non-lethal charges and will not detonate unless it receives confirmation from a human soldier.
World Report 2014 is Human Rights Watch’s 24th annual review of human rights practices around the globe. It summarizes key human rights issues in more than 90 countries and territories worldwide, drawing on events through November 2013.
Reflecting on the “Rights Struggles of 2013,” Executive Director Kenneth Roth highlights the slaughter of civilians in Syria in the face of a weak international response; “abusive majoritarianism” among governments who voice commitment to democracy but in reality use the real or perceived preferences of the majority to limit dissent and suppress minorities; and new disclosures in the United States about the use of dragnet surveillance and targeted drone killings.
The World Report reflects extensive investigative work that Human Rights Watch staff undertook in 2013, in close partnership with human rights activists on the ground.
Legacies of War successfully advocates for $12 million in 2014
Legacies of War today announced that the U.S. will be spending $12 million in fiscal year 2014 for unexploded ordnance (UXO) clearance, victim assistance and risk education in Laos. The funding was included in the recent omnibus spending bill passed by Congress and signed by President Obama. The amount represents the largest annual spending by the U.S. to support various groups in Laos working to improve clearance efficiency, lower casualty rates and support current victims.
Legacies of War, a Washington-based nonprofit, has worked hard to focus the attention of the U.S. on the problem of UXO in Laos. “We are pleased to see that the U.S. government is stepping up to meet its responsibility to ensure that the unexploded bombs leftover from the Vietnam War era are finally cleared. We are grateful for the ongoing commitment of the policy makers in Washington and our partners in Laos who are dedicated to solving this four-decade old problem,” said Brett Dakin, Chair of the Board of Legacies of War.
From 1964 to 1973, Laos was involved in the Indochina conflict, and was subjected to the heaviest bombing campaign in history with approximately two million tons of ordnance dropped on the country. Of the 270 million cluster bombs dropped, about thirty-percent never exploded, leaving an estimated 80 million bomblets littering 14 of the 17 provinces in Laos.
Film review: Kim Mordaunt’s ‘The Rocket follows’ an outcast boy in Laos as he enters a sports competition.
To help his struggling family and escape his own status as an outcast, a plucky young boy enters a competition. Yes, The Rocket is a sports movie, with an outcome that’s easily foreseen. The cultural specifics of this Laos-set tale, however, are far less predictable.
Australian writer-director Kim Mordaunt came to his debut fiction feature via a documentary, Bomb Harvest, about Laotian children who collect scrap metal from American bombs. The Rocket’s 10-year-old protagonist isn’t one of them, but he does encounter some unexploded bombs and rockets — “sleeping tigers,” in the local lingo. These become of particular interest to Ahlo (Sitthiphon Disamoe) when he learns about a singular contest.
The story begins, though, with Ahlo’s birth, which his superstitious grandmother (Bunsri Yindi) deems inauspicious: Although his sibling is stillborn, Ahlo is technically a twin, which according to local lore means he may be cursed. But his mother (Alice Keohavong) refuses to kill him, as the older woman advises.
Do you have something to say about mine action or explosive remnants of war? If so, it is time to start writing! Articles for Issue 18.2 of The Journal of ERW and Mine Action (to be published summer 2014) are due 15 February 2014.
This issue will focus on CWD emergency response, Sahel-Maghreb, and small-arms and light weapons marking and tracing initiatives. We are also looking for case studies, research and development articles, and sumbissions documenting work in the field.
Instead, it is launching a series of regional Senior Managers’ Courses. A regional approach will allow CISR greater flexibility to tailor the curriculum, course location and capacity-building objectives to fit the needs of training recipients. The series will begin in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, in May 2014 for certain countries in Central Asia. Application materials are being distributed to relevant national ERW and mine-action programs in the targeted countries. Plans for additional regional training courses will be posted as they become available.
Some time back, I reported on the role that mine action can play in peacebuilding processes with specific reference to Senegal and the conflict in the Casamance (Landmines in Africa). I also covered the May 2013 kidnapping of a dozen deminers in Senegal (Landmines in Africa) and their subsequent release two and a half months later, noting there was “No word about the future of demining in the region” (Landmines in Africa). Now, because of a number of recent events, is a very good time to discuss the future of demining in Senegal.
At the outset, it is important to state that demining is typically an activity that occurs after the cessation of hostilities. Some mine action, especially mine risk education, will occur in the midst of active conflict, but for most of Africa, landmine clearance is taking place in areas where a peace treaty or at least a ceasefire is in place. Afghanistan does provide an example of a country, very much in conflict, where landmine clearance is ongoing and tremendous strides have been made to reduce the threat of landmines to the population. However, the Mine Ban Treaty, to which Senegal is a party, does not allow for delays in implementation due to conflict; parties to the Treaty are expected to meet their obligations as quickly as possible. Another important point that should be mentioned here is, relative to other African countries, the amount of land contaminated by landmines in Senegal is very small, a few square kilometers at most.
Background: The conflict, the peace process and the landmine problem
The conflict in Senegal is a low-intensity, separatist conflict. The Casamance region, the southern portion of the country, bordering on Guinea-Bissau and separated from capitol, Dakar, and the majority of the country by The Gambia, was once a Portuguese colony that the French acquired prior to Senegal’s independence. That separate history is the basis for the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance’s (MFDC) claim for independence from the rest of Senegal. Historically, the Casamance has been the breadbasket of Senegal and more recently continues to receive significant tourism from Europe at the Club Med at Cap Skirring just north of the Guinea-Bissau border. The conflict started in 1982 after agitations by members of Casamance’s religious community, labor unrest in the wake of structural adjustment reforms imposed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and, according to some sources, questionable refereeing decisions in a football match between teams from Ziguinchor, the provincial capitol of Casamance, and Dakar. Members of the MFDC also point to a rumored promise from Senegal’s first president, Leopold Senghor, to grant independence to Casamance twenty years after Senegal achieved its own independence (Africa Portal; Wikipedia).
This book provides basic information to help women with disabilities stay healthy, and will also help those who assist women with disabilities to provide good care. You can help us improve this health guide. So, if you are a woman with a disability, a caregiver, or anyone with ideas or suggestions about how to improve this book and the health of women with disabilities, please write to us. We would like to hear about your experiences and practices.
A US Marine runs to safety as an improvised explosive device explodes in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in 2009. (AFP via Getty Images)
The Pentagon’s counter-IED organization will shrink nearly 90 percent in the coming years from its peak strength in 2010 but expand its missions, according to US Defense Department documents.
In one of his final decisions as deputy defense secretary, Ashton Carter, who left the Pentagon on Wednesday, said the Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) should sustain its ability to support US forces in Afghanistan and the evolving counter-IED requirements around the world.
The personnel cuts will come over the next four years, shrinking JIEDDO down to a “base capacity level” of about 400 people in 2017. At its peak in April 2010, the organization had more than 3,900 people.
The Landmine Monitor 2013 report has announced that there are still 1 million land mines in Turkey, although over 26,000 of them were removed last year.
The portion of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines’ (ICBL) report on Turkey was debated on Thursday in Istanbul. Evaluating the report, the coordinator of the Initiative for a Mine-Free Turkey, Muteber Ogreten said trade of land mines on the black market still exists, evidenced by land mines that have been discovered in Syria and Yemen.
According to the figures Ogreten provided, as of June 21, 2011, approximately 3 million land mines were destroyed in Turkey. “In 2012, over 26,000 land mines were removed, but the number of still-buried land mines is 1 million,” she says before going on to say that “since 1998, only 1 percent of the land mines have been destroyed.” According to her, since 2004, about TL 55.8 million has been spent on the removal of land mines. The cost of removing a single mine is TL 4,678. “Because of land mines, one person is either killed or wounded every three days,” she further says.
A company called Not Impossible Labs has come up with one of the best uses for 3D printer technology we’ve ever heard of: printing low-cost prosthetic arms for people, mainly children, who have lost limbs in the war-torn country of Sudan.
The project was the brain child of Mick Ebeling, founder of Not Impossible, a company dedicated to “technology for the sake of humanity.” Not Impossible is probably best known for its "Eyewriter" eye tracking glasses, created with free open source software, that helped a paralyzed graffiti artist draw and communicate using only his eyes.
Project Daniel started in 2012, when Ebeling read a story in Time magazine about Daniel Omar, a then 14-year-old Sudanese boy who lost both his hands from a bomb.
In 2013, we mark ten years of U.S. Government assistance to Iraq for Conventional Weapons Destruction, including Humanitarian Mine Action, and are proud of the programs and partnerships that enable countless Iraqi citizens to live and work in their communities more safely. The United States has invested more than $235 million in Iraq since 2003 toward the clearance and safe disposal of landmines, unexploded ordnance, and excess conventional weapons and munitions. This assistance, directed through several Iraqi and international nongovernmental organizations, has made significant progress toward protecting communities from potential risks, restoring access to land and infrastructure, and developing Iraqi capacity to manage weapons abatement programs independently over the long term.
The Landmine/Unexploded Ordnance Challenge
Iraq faces a significant challenge from landmines and unexploded ordnance as a result of conflicts dating back to the 1940s. In addition, large stocks of abandoned ordnance and unstable, poorly-secured munitions stockpiles also remain a threat to communities across the country. In FY 2009, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs invested $4.3 million with the Iraq Mine/UXO Clearance Organization (IMCO) to conduct a CWD program that included the destruction of 37,939 weapons, ranging from pistols to 120mm mortars.
Explosive remnants of war, such as unexploded artillery shells, mortars, and other munitions still present daily hazards to Iraqi citizens across the country. Information Management and Mine Action Programs (iMMAP) conducted two Landmine Impact Surveys in 2006 and 2011 that estimated 1,513 million square meters (585 square miles) of land in Iraq contain as many as 20 million landmines and millions more pieces of unexploded ordnance.
According to reports conducted by the United Nations, over 15,000 people are killed or injured by land mines around the world every year.
That is equivalent to more than half the population of the undergraduate students at JMU becoming amputees or dying due to unexploded ordinances. Though around the world it is not just young adults who are affected, as land mine victims are usually the elderly or children.
“Right now there are hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees outside Syria. Hundreds of thousands are in Jordan,” Ken Rutherford, director of the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery, said. “When there is peace in Syria they are going to return home, and what they’re going to find is crumbled buildings mixed with unexploded ammunition.”
Six million square meters of land can again be used for farming, infrastructure and housing in Lebanon now that DanChurchAid’s landmine clearance teams have removed the dangerous remnants of war.
Lebanon has been devastated by conflicts and war for much of recent history, and it is still beset by the remains that are left behind when the battles cease.
DanChurchAid has helped the Lebanese authorities to clear up and to make the land safe since 2007.
The year before, a conflict broke out once more with Israel which resulted in large parts of southern Lebanon being bombed with cluster bombs. The result was thousands of unexploded cluster bombs in back gardens, on fields and roads. Other parts of the country have problems with land mines from the civil war that devastated Lebanon from 1975 to 1990.
In this 2009 file photo, a Colombian police officer talks with children before the inauguration of a new police station in La Uribe, Meta province. REUTERS/Eliana Aponte.
Some children have recurring nightmares and constant anxiety, others suffer from insomnia and low self-esteem, and find it hard to interact with their peers. Other children, wounded by landmines, have had limbs amputated or are blind.
These are the mental and physical scars inflicted on children during Colombia’s 50-year-old war, according to a joint study released earlier this month by Colombia’s child protection agency (ICBF), the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF).
Decades of fighting between the government, leftist guerrillas and right-wing paramilitary groups have killed at least 220,000 people and forced about 5 million Colombians, half of them children, to leave their homes, according to government figures.
The Vietnamese government and international partners will mobilise all resources to overcome the consequences of unexploded ordnance (UXO) left over from the war, according to Don Tuan Phong, Vice President of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organisations (VUFO).
He noted that many organisations had joined Vietnam in the endeavour over the past 20 years, contributing 10-15 million USD every year.
The organisations also assisted the country in drawing charts of areas polluted by UXOs as well as building a database on bombs, mines and other ordnance, he added.
She will speak on the context and history of landmines in Latin America, the efforts to clear them and post-clearance challenges.
Time: 12/13/2013 - 10:00
Briefing: Explosions of Violence Landmines & the Context of Conflict in Latin America 10am, Fri, Dec 13 Congressional Meeting Room South Capitol Visitors Center
Latin America struggles with chronic violence and insecurity. In 2012, 1 in 3 citizens reported being impacted by violent crime and 50% perceived a deterioration in security. While insecurity has many manifestations, the presence of landmines in one third of Latin American countries contributes to the face of violence in many parts of the Western Hemisphere.
Colombia alone has the second highest number of landmine victims in the world, surpassed only by Afghanistan. Since 1990, over 10,000 citizens, including nearly 1,000 children, have been wounded or killed by landmines and estimates suggest clearing all the active mines in Colombia could take over a decade.
A United Nations team of ammunition specialists is offering technical advice to local authorities on the recovery work and is assessing the state of an Ammunition Storage Area at Brak Al-Chati in southern Libya where an explosion on 28 November killed over 40 people and injured many others.
The team from the United Nations Mine Action Services (UNMAS) was dispatched to the area near the main southern Libyan city of Sabha following the tragic incident to assess the situation and offer assistance to the local authorities. The United Nations also placed three Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams on standby to start clearing the perimeters of the site explosion if required by the local authorities.
In addition to the technical advice on the safe handling of ammunition and recovery work after the explosion, the UN team of experts at the site is also assessing to determine if more bunkers are at risk after looting. Several days after the explosion, Libyan Civil Defence teams were still working at the site clearing the debris and looking for bodies of victims.
So far this year, 240 civilians in Afghanistan have been either killed or injured by explosives - an increase of over 30% from 2012. Over the last decade, NATO troops have dropped tens of thousands of bombs and laid out landmines throughout the country, many of which remain undetonated. Unless the unexploded devices are cleared before the NATO forces withdraw from Afghanistan, the chance of locals becoming added to the list of casualties remains high.