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Published: March 28th 2006
We went to Bagram and saw a demonstration of how the HALO Trust
was clearing minefields. As HALO's website notes, Afghanistan was heavily mined by Soviet forces during their ten year occupation, with further mine-laying by the communist regime of Najibullah, during localised internecine fighting between Mujahideen groups and most recently between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance...Afghanistan is probably the most mined country in the world, with HALO estimates of up to 640,000 mines laid since 1979. HALO’s operations started in 1988 when we introduced to the world the concept of humanitarian mineclearance...HALO employs 1,960 Afghan staff managed by Afghans with the assistance of two expatriate operations officers and an accountant...Since 1988, HALO Afghanistan has cleared over 1.3 million items of UXO and mines. Following the demise of the Taliban, HALO Afghanistan has expanded by 60%!w(MISSING)ith teams concentrating on the abandoned Northern Alliance/Taliban front lines in the Shomali Valley, the Andarab Valley and between Kunduz and Taloqan. These fronts remained static for four years and are characterised by an extensive use of complicated booby traps. Over 1.5 million refugees returned within 12 months and HALO survey, demining and ordnance disposal have been vital to ensure their safe return. In addition to mineclearance,
Active mine area
Red rocks mean danger, white rocks mean safe - rocks painted both colors tell you which side of the rock to stay on.
HALO has used heavy machinery to clear the Salang Tunnel of rubble and conduct rescue operations in two major earthquakes and an avalanche in 2002...
We saw a demonstration of the painstaking work that the minefield clearers do - it took almost 20 minutes to unearth what turned out to be a harmless piece of shrapnel. There was an active field being cleared adjacent to our demonstration, and while we were there, shepherds (aka the Cuchi people) and their goats and sheep were grazing; our guide told us that many Cuchi and their herds have been mine victims in recent years. A team down the road found an anti-tank mine, so we got to go watch it be destroyed. As we walked around the area, pieces of ordinance and spent ammunition were visible all around us. It was pretty eerie.
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