CISR Program Manager Nicole Neitzey attends the 9th Annual Humanitarian Demining Symposium and Equipment Exhibition in Šibenik, Croatia from 24–26 April 2012
This year’s symposium was the biggest in its nine-year history, with about 225 registered participants from dozens of countries. All gathered at a beautiful resort location in a small coastal city in Croatia, but despite the idyllic surroundings, we came together to discuss a serious subject. The schedule was jam-packed with presentations and demonstrations on such topics as mine-action standards, underwater demining, use of robots in demining and quality assurance. I was also given the opportunity to present the JMU/C King Associates study into the effects of aging on landmines, a topic that generated a good deal of discussion among participants.
The symposium was attended by a number of distinguished delegates, including German ambassador to Croatia His Excellency Dr. Bernd Fischer, who reminded the attendees during the opening session that Croatia is poised to join the European Union next year and encouraged the EU to do more to assist its soon-to-be newest member state in freeing itself from the scourge of landmines.
One initiative that the workshop strongly promoted was “TIRAMISU”—an effort by the EU to gather information on various aspects of mine-action efforts in order to make them accessible to all in the community. TIRAMISU stands for Toolbox Implementation for Removal of Anti-personnel Mines, Submuntions, and UXO and the working group’s members come from seven countries and incorporate 24 organizations, including representatives working as mine-action experts, scientists in research and development of various technologies, end users, and advisers. Their objective is to reduce costs and provide greater benefit to mine-action efforts. They seek to connect with various actors in the community for information to inform their work (visit http://fp7-tiramisu.eu for more information).
Day 2 focused on equipment, including a trip to a nearby test site, where participants saw eight demining machines, and ground preparation showed off its capabilities. Rain through the night and into the morning made the test site quite muddy, increasing the level of difficulty for the machines to perform, especially on the obstacle course, which included a steep gradient that the small and medium machines had to climb and come back down. All fared well, however, and the simulation was made more realistic by the landmine-like explosions each machine set off during its trip down the makeshift minefield lanes.
In our downtime, some of us took advantage of the beauty offered by our surroundings. We visited the historic town of Šibenik as well as the nearby National Park of the River Krka with its gorgeous waterfalls. Our gracious hosts arranged a boat trip to close out the workshop, taking us around the Šibenik Archipelago and to the island of Zlarin.
I made many new connections with colleagues from across the world, met several people whose names I knew as contributors to our Journal, and saw a number of familiar faces, including graduates from past CISR management courses at JMU and in Jordan. Many thanks above all go to Mirko Ivanušić of CROMAC, a JMU Senior Manager’s Course graduate and incredibly accommodating host, attending to all our needs during our time in his beautiful country.