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Posts tagged "mine action"

Land mines are not only explosive but also poisonous, leaking toxins into the soil that make plants sick. That’s unfortunate for the plants but fortunate for us—if we can figure out how to look for sick plants as harbingers of land mines. Airplanes equipped with a low-cost sensor that captures non-visible light might be the answer.

LiveScience's Becky Oskin reports from the annual meeting of Ecological Society of America, where a group of researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University are presenting just this idea. That a bunch of ecologists would be interested in land mines actually makes a lot of sense; land mines lurking underground can subtly shape the ecology of an area.

The VCU researchers did their field research at an unusual place though, a “privately owned experimental minefield in South Carolina, where [DARPA] once buried fake land mines for a research project,” writes Oskin. The National Explosives Waste Technology and Evaluation Center is where researchers can (safely) experiment on new ways to detect land mines.

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Whilst traveling in Cambodia, i was told there are no wild elephants left in the country. The only place they are sometimes found is on the border with Thailand which is still riddled with landmines left by the Khmer Rouge. This young elephant is being measured for a prosthetic. 

Government has appealed to the international community to chip in with about $100 million required to speed up the demining of the country’s borders after the exercise was allocated a paltry $500 000 by Treasury this year.

Secretary in the Ministry of Defence Martin Rushwaya told Parliament yesterday that the paltry allocation from Treasury had stalled the programme.

“We were only allocated $500 000 in the 2014 national Budget for demining and we appeal to the international community to support us to complete the demining exercise,” Rushwaya said.

Director of the Zimbabwe Mine Action Centre Colonel Mkhululi Ncube warned members of the public against tampering with landmines after being misled into believing that the explosives contained red mercury.

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A landmine charity once supported by Princess Diana has suspended its founder and chief executive.

The Halo Trust said there had been a “serious deterioration” in relations between Guy Willoughby and the board, and it had decided to suspend him.

The trust reviewed his role after the Sunday Telegraph printed details of his £220,000 a year pay package in January.

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The Belgian soldiers didn’t even flinch when the mines exploded meters behind them, sending a plume of dust and smoke into the sky.

“We’re used to it,” Lt. Steven Roels said with a good-natured shrug.

For the past four months, Roels and a platoon of Belgian soldiers in UNIFIL have worked six days a week clearing mines along the Lebanese-Israeli border, and the blasts have slowly become routine inflections in their daily rhythm.

In two weeks, however, Roels and the rest of the battalion will hang up their trademark blue helmets and head home.

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Four Tunisian soldiers were killed by a land mine Wednesday in the country’s northwest, where the army has been battling Islamist militants, the defence ministry said.

“Four soldiers aboard a Hummer were killed by a land mine explosion during an anti-terror operation” at Jebel Ouergha in Kef province, said ministry spokesman Rachid Bouhoula.

Weapons “caches of the terrorists were destroyed and units of the security forces pursued these elements,” Bouhoula told AFP.

The incident is the latest in a string of fatalities caused by roadside bombs and land mines in the remote border region, parts of which have been declared closed military zones as the security forces press a campaign against militants holed up there.

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The United States will phase out its stockpiles of landmines designed to target people, moving closer to joining a global ban on a weapon that kills more than 15,000 people a year — most of them civilians.

U.S. officials made the declaration at an anti-mine conference in Maputo, Mozambique, according to a statement issued by National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden.

Activists have long pressured the United States to join the international treaty banning the production, stockpiling and use of anti-personnel landmines — the kind meant to kill or maim when someone steps on them.

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A Deminer Working for the HALO Trust on the Job in Colombia

In several Latin American countries, decades of conflict have left behind a dangerous legacy: small arms and light weapons in unsecured stockpiles; excess and obsolete munitions; and hidden hazards from landmines and unexploded ordnance.  The Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs is working closely with partner countries and nongovernmental organizations to enhance Latin American regional security by funding conventional weapons destruction and landmine clearance projects.  A team of PM/WRA experts recently went to Colombia, El Salvador, and Honduras to participate in a landmine survivors’ assistance conference and take stock of progress to date and the challenges ahead for U.S.-funded humanitarian demining and weapons destruction projects. 

The first stop was the Bridges Between Worlds conference held in Medellin, Colombia.  With over 300 representatives from 36 countries and numerous NGOs in attendance, the two-day event focused on enhancing landmine survivors’ assistance and integrating survivor assistance policy into broader national policies regarding disability, health, education, employment, development, and poverty reduction.  The conference location was especially significant; Colombia is one of the most landmine-affected countries in the world and is second only to Afghanistan in the number of disabled survivors of accidents involving landmines and unexploded ordnance.

Following the conference, our team visited landmine survivors in San Carlos, Colombia, along with staff from our partners at the Centro Integral de Rehabilitacion de Colombia (CIREC). CIREC is a Colombian NGO specializing in medical and psychological services for conflict survivors.  With U.S. support, CIREC has deployed “rehabilitation brigades” to assist landmine survivors and other persons with disabilities throughout Colombia’s conflict-affected regions. CIREC’s rehabilitation brigades provide services in orthopedics, psychiatry, and physical and psychological therapy to those most in need.

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United States: Lagging on Landmine Ban

“It’s going to be embarrassing for the US to have to explain to the high-level officials at the summit meeting why it has been reviewing its landmine policies for five years without making a decision,” said Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch and chair of the United States Campaign to Ban Landmines, a coalition of more than 400 nongovernmental organizations. “It’s time for the US to commit to the Mine Ban Treaty as the best framework for achieving a world without landmines.”

The United States is not among the 161 nations that have signed the treaty, which comprehensively bans antipersonnel landmines and requires their clearance and assistance to victims. The Clinton administration in 1997 set the objective of joining the treaty in 2006, but the Bush administration reversed course in 2004.

Photo: Two victims of landmines sit at a prosthetic center in Sanaa, Yemen on January 30, 2014. © 2014 Reuters