Did you know that the Department of State uses 3-D printing technology to create models of landmines and military ordnance to train demining technicians on how to safely clear explosive remnants of war in post-conflict countries around the world?
HARRISONBURG - Children in the United States don’t have to worry about stepping on landmines while walking to school, hiking through the woods, or playing a pick-up game of soccer on a makeshift field. But for millions of children in other parts of the world, the risks are all too real.
While the potential loss of life is the biggest concern, it’s not the only one for those who live in the 59 countries contaminated with landmines left behind from years of war. The mines are a threat to those countries’ economies, too.
The Center for International Stabilization and Recovery at James Madison University used last week’s Post-Conflict Recovery Week to raise awareness about mine-related issues. Friday was the United Nation’s International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. CISR publishes the Journal of ERW and Mine Action and runs programs to help victims and help rid communities of mines.
HARRISONBURG - Lessening refugees’ enormous burden is just one of the jobs of the U.S. Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.
"It’s amazing what [refugees] can do with a little bit of help," said Simon Henshaw, the bureau’s principal deputy assistant secretary.
Henshaw spoke about his experience working with refugees during a talk Monday night at James Madison University as part of Post-Conflict Recovery Week events. The annual week is sponsored by Harrisonburg’s Center for International Stabilization and Recovery.
Post-Conflict Recovery Week: War, Trauma, Resilience and Recovery
In a panel discussion on the long-lasting psychosocial effects of conflict that remain long after peace is declared, local trauma specialists and a genocide survivor from Burundi will share their experiences, featuring the Director of Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience at Eastern Mennonite University, Elaine Zook Barge, CISR Trauma Rehabilitation Specialist Cameron Macauley, survivor Jean Claude Nkundwa and James Madison University's Dr. Anne Stewart.
April 2 | 7-8:30 p.m. | ISAT 159 | Light refreshments to follow
The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) is assisting with preparations for new Syrian arrivals once Jordan’s third refugee camp opens on 30 April, a spokesperson today confirmed.
The Azraq camp, located nearly 100 kilometers east of the capital, Amman, will eventually accommodate up to 130,000 people. Many of these are expected to be people recently crossing from Syria and refugees already in the country willing to be reunited with newly arrived families.
“The opening will be timely as the past weeks have seen the numbers of people crossing the border increasing by 50 per cent to an average of approximately 600 daily,” said UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards, welcoming the Jordanian Government’s decision to open the camp.
Princess Astrid of Belgium with (L) Didier Reynders Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs of Belgium and (R) Oman’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Youssef bin Alawi bin Abdullah. Photo issued by Belgium.
Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid of Belgium, in her capacity as a special envoy of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, or Ottawa Convention, has welcomed the decision of the Sultanate of Oman to join the treaty that bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of anti-personnel mines.
Princess Astrid, while on a trade mission to Oman, met with the Sultanate’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Youssef bin Alawi bin Abdullah, to encourage Oman to further its engagement in the international movement to eradicate anti-personnel mines by joining the landmark disarmament and humanitarian treaty.
Oman’s Minister of Foreign Affairs responded to Princess Astrid’s appeal by informing her that the Sultanate had taken the decision to join the Convention.
Each year, a large number of civilians are killed and injured by unexploded weapons such as artillery shells, land mines, mortars, grenades and bombs. These explosive remnants of war (ERW) regularly disrupt daily civilian life in post-war and conflict zones. To combat the problem, the Center for Technology and National Security Policy (CTNSP) at the National Defense University (NDU) is challenging developers to come up with a mechanism to keep “eyes on the street” and transform ordinary citizen’s mobile devices into tools that can be used to report ERW and land mines to the appropriate authorities.
The contest encourages developers to develop open-source applications, as well as to leverage existing apps. All submissions must demonstrate how the new or improved application will produce or improve ERW or land mine reporting, and how the solution will be sustained following the completion of the competition.
A $3,000 cash award will be given for first place. Second place will receive $1,500 and third place will receive $500. The top two submissions may see their application rolled out in countries affected by ERW, where their solution could be put to work immediately.
Mozambique could be free of anti-personnel land mines by the end of this year, according to the head of operations of the National Demining Institute (IND), Antonio Martins.
Speaking at a Maputo seminar, intended to draw up plans for assisting land mine victims, Martins said that in 2013, 592 areas suspected of containing land mines, and covering a total area of 9.33 million square metres, were demined.
That still leaves another 500 areas suspected of contamination in 19 districts. “A total of 5.6 million square metres needs to be demined”, said Martins, estimating the budget for this at 17 million US dollars. One of the main challenges, he added, is demining the border between Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
"Lobster radar" could help lead to better electronic noses
Researchers at the University of Florida say a lobster’s sense of smell could one day protect soldiers from landmines and other explosives.
UF researchers have discovered that a type of olfactory neuron in lobsters constantly discharges small bursts of electronic pulses that may help them find an odor’s location when they search for food or try to avoid danger.
Now the researchers say that ability, which they call “lobster radar” could help them develop improved electronic “noses” to detect explosives.
The Turkish authorities have decided to demine border areas in the east. Three-quarters of the cost of demining is to be covered by the European Union, the Turkish newspaper Aksam reports.
Clearing border territories is already held jointly by the Interior Ministry and the Turkish General Staff. A territory of 11 million 665 thousand 641 square meters will be cleared. The mine fence will be replaced by a modern warning system, and any cases of illegal border crossings will be cut short by 26 observation cars, Turan reports.
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.