On the International Day for Mine Awareness, Humanity & Inclusion is alarmed by an exceptionally high and complex level of contamination, particularly explosive remnants of war and improvised mines following current and recent conflicts.
The latest edition of the Landmine Monitor recorded 5,554 mine casualties in 2019. 80% of casualties are civilians, with children representing 43% of all civilian casualties. These high figures are mainly due to intense armed conflicts in Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and other areas.
The use of explosive weapons in populated areas and the sometimes unprecedented level of contamination left will require complex and long clearance operations in order to restore life to local populations.
“Bombing populated areas makes weapons clearance operations exceptionally difficult," says Jeff Meer, U.S. Executive Director for Humanity & Inclusion. "In Syria, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan, and other countries with ongoing or recent conflict, bombing and shelling in urban areas have left behind a large number of explosive remnants of war including bombs, missiles, projectiles, and improvised devices, often mixed within the rubble of destroyed or partially destroyed buildings.
"In many places, this contamination is deliberately placed to target civilians and spread fear and death to those wishing to return home. This type of contamination is extremely dangerous and requires complex clearance operations. It also makes risk education sessions essential to teach the population safe behaviors and to respond to these dangers when faced with these deadly explosive devices.”
Clearance in the 21st century
After years of conflict, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and other countries are contaminated by a vast range of explosive weapons including air-delivered bombs, explosive remnants of war, improvised explosive devices and booby traps. Urban areas are the worst affected.
In many cities in these countries, the ground is littered with rubble mixed with explosive hazards. With new challenges to clearance operations, humanitarian clearance organizations are having to adapt, re-equip and in some cases, re-train.
With its partner Mobility Robotics, Humanity & Inclusion in Chad has tested the use of drones to accelerate the clearance of land contaminated by mines and other explosive remnants of war to make land safe for release to the local population. Humanity & Inclusion is able to locate suspicious objects using drones equipped with cameras and create maps to better define places of intervention for deminers. Humanity & Inclusion is pioneering the use of infrared cameras to locate explosive ordnance buried in the ground. These new methods aim to accelerate land release activities in addition to making them safer, cost effective and efficient.