HALO Trust

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HALO Trust
Halo trust.jpg
The stone installed by HALO Trust after checking the territory for mines, Ochamchira district, Abkhazia
Founded 1988; 30 years ago (1988)
Founder Guy Willoughby, Colin Campbell Mitchell and Sue Mitchell
Type Non-governmental organization, Non-profit organization
Focus Humanitarianism
Headquarters Thornhill, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland
Area served
Method Demining
Website www.halotrust.org

The HALO Trust (Hazardous Area Life-support Organization) is a non-political and non-religious registered British charity and American non-profit organization which removes debris left behind by war, in particular land mines. With about 6,000 deminers worldwide, HALO's largest operation is in Afghanistan, where the organization operates as an implementing partner of the Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan (MAPA).

HALO's global headquarters are located in Thornhill, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. HALO has US offices located in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, California.


The organization was founded in 1988 by Guy Willoughby and Colin Campbell Mitchell, a British member of Parliament, former colonel in the British Army and his wife Sue Mitchell. Guy Willoughby won the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award in 2009.[1]


In terms of removing landmines and Unexploded ordnance (UXO), the HALO Trust has destroyed over 1.5 million landmines, over 11 million pieces of large calibre ordnance and over 200,000 cluster munitions. Around 10,800 minefields have been cleared and 87,316 acres (353.36 km2) have been made safe from landmines, with another 361,956 acres (1,464.78 km2) made safe from unexploded and abandoned ordnance.

In September 2015, when Mozambique declared itself free of all known landmines,[2] HALO announced that it had cleared 171,000 of the country’s landmines and employed 1,600 Mozambican men and women over the course of twenty-two years.[3]

In December 2015 The HALO Trust announced that it had cleared 200,000 landmines in Sri Lanka. James Cowan, CEO said "Whilst we have much progress to celebrate in Sri Lanka today, there are still many landmines posing a serious threat to the most disadvantaged and vulnerable communities. The Sri Lankan government has set a target of 2020 for Sri Lanka to be mine-impact free, but we need long term donor commitment to reach that goal." [4]

In May 2016 HALO announced that it had secured approval from the Israeli and Palestinian authorities as well as eight religious denominations to clear landmines from the site of the Baptism of Christ.[5]

The trust has a budget of approximately £25m (approximately $40m). It receives support from the UK government and other governments around the world including Finland, Norway, Germany, Netherlands, Ireland and New Zealand. In 2014, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office supported HALO with £2.8m.[6]

HALO has won awards for its work including the Overall Winner at the Charity Awards in 2012.[7]


In February 2015, James Cowan was appointed HALO's chief executive officer. Cowan is a British Army officer who commanded the 3rd UK Division after a 33-year army career. When he was appointed, the trustees noted "James’s experience leading defence operations around the globe offers the unique in-country experience that is critical to HALO’s plan to extend its work in new regions. His appointment will ensure that HALO continues to achieve the best possible outcomes for people living in post-conflict countries."[8]

Cowan replaced Guy Willoughby who resigned from his role as chief executive of the trust on 11 August 2014.[9] He had been suspended in the wake of an investigation into his pay package, which included reimbursement for the costs of his children’s school fees. Many international organizations, including the UN routinely pay private school tuition for children of employees[10] but the investigation led to a "deterioration in the relationship between him and the board."[11] HALO's announcement stated "Guy co-founded HALO over twenty-six years ago, pioneering the concept of civilian mine clearance as an act of humanity - recognising the lasting dangers of war long after conflict has ended. Guy has been instrumental in developing HALO from a tiny charity into the extraordinarily powerful force for good it is today, with more than 7,000 HALO staff now working in 17 countries and territories. He has helped to make mine clearance an issue that is now taken seriously throughout the world."


Central Asia[edit]


HALO's largest operation is in Afghanistan, one of the most mined countries in the world,[12] with HALO estimates of up to 640,000 mines laid since 1979.[13]

During the several periods of conflict over the last three decades, millions of Afghans fled their homes and made their way to Pakistan and Iran in order to escape the conflict that was ravaging their country. With prolonged periods of conflict in which front lines were shifting and there was extensive mine-laying, residential areas and agricultural land soon became so dangerous that Afghan families felt that the safest place to be was outside Afghanistan. Upwards of 6.2 million Afghans were reported as having left Afghanistan for Pakistan and Iran alone during the various phases of conflict.[13] However, since the fall of the Taliban over five million refugees have returned to their homes.[14]

Since 1988, HALO Afghanistan has destroyed over 692,000 mines (156,000 emplaced mines and 536,000 stockpiled mines), nine million items of large calibre ammunition and 45.4 million bullets.[13]

HALO Afghanistan currently has an operational capacity employing over 3,500 Afghans, and runs a mixture of manual, mechanical, survey, battle area clearance (BAC), explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and weapon and ammunition disposal (WAD) teams. HALO's current area of mineclearance operations is in nine provinces of the Northern and Central regions and Herat Province in the west of the country. The organisation operates by building a local capacity: Afghan staff are managed by Afghans, with assistance from 2 expatriate staff.[13] HALO is the largest implementing agency of the Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan (MAPA).[12]

Since 2003 HALO has also had an independent Weapons & Ammunition Disposal (WAD) project, which has worked in every region of Afghanistan. Initially the WAD teams concentrated on the disposal of the significant quantities of degraded and unstable ammunition that were amassed across the country after the formation of the present government. After destroying those stocks HALO's focus became the location and destruction of ammunition stocks that lie outside of direct government control. Invariably these are small caches of buried munitions that are often degraded and unsuitable to be used for conventional warfare but can still pose a threat to communities. In total the HALO Afghanistan WAD teams have destroyed 23,000 tonnes of ammunition.[13]

Middle East[edit]

The West Bank[edit]

HALO’s survey in the West Bank in 2012 identified a total of 90 minefields; 13 laid by the Jordanian military from 1948 to 1967, and 77 minefields laid by the Israeli military along the Jordan River following the 1967 war. Many of the minefields are within communities, surrounded by housing and cultivated land - valuable land which would otherwise be used for cultivation and grazing. Very little effort has previously been put into clearing the minefields. Where limited clearance has taken place it has often been incomplete with landmines remaining and accidents occurring after clearance. The concept of humanitarian mine clearance is relatively new to the West Bank; in March 2011 the Israeli Ministry of Defence established the Israeli National Mine Action Authority (INMAA) and in February 2012 the Palestinian Authority established the Palestinian Mine Action Centre (PMAC) to take responsibility for mine action in Israel and the West Bank. Mine Risk Education (MRE) has been attempted in the West Bank by a number of organizations but these have so far failed to establish a sustainable capacity. Given the close proximity of many of the minefields to the civilian population, MRE has an important role to play in preventing accidents and raising awareness of on-going clearance activities, particularly amongst children.

HALO has established a program in the West Bank funded by the US Department of State and the Dutch Government to conduct minefield survey, mine clearance and mine risk education. HALO will work under the auspices of the Israeli National Mine Action Authority (INMAA) and will also report to the Palestinian Mine Action Centre (PMAC). A systematic survey of the West Bank’s minefields conducted by HALO in the first half of 2012 has provided an accurate, up-to-date assessment of the extent of the mines problem that exists there. Survey will allow prioritization of the clearance of minefields with the highest impact on the local population. In 2013, HALO intends to recruit and train local manual deminers and mechanical plant operators to clear the minefields. HALO will use armored mechanical equipment where necessary to support the clearance of land unsuited to manual clearance techniques. HALO intends to use its extensive network of community and NGO contacts in the West Bank as the framework for an MRE program running in conjunction with clearance operations.

Southeast Asia[edit]


Over 63,500 landmine and ERW casualties have been recorded in Cambodia since 1979,[15] and with over 25,000 amputees Cambodia has the highest ratio per capita in the world.[16] Despite a considerable reduction in casualty numbers over recent years, down from 875 in 2005[17] to 269 in 2008,[15] Cambodia's mine and ERW problem still represents a major impediment to the social and economic development of the country. However, given more than 18 years of humanitarian demining, the landmine threat is now largely concentrated in just 21 north-west border districts.[18]

In these rural districts the landmine problem continues to negatively affect much-needed development by hindering access to:

  • Land for agriculture and resettlement
  • Infrastructure and basic social services
  • Irrigation and safe drinking water
  • Secondary and tertiary roads
  • Land for cattle raising and foraging for forest products;

as well as:

  • Placing financial and emotional hardship on families needing to care for a landmine survivor
  • Causing psychological trauma for those forced to live alongside such a threat[19]

HALO Cambodia currently has over 1,150 national staff working in the provinces of Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Otdar Meanchey and Pailin. Recruiting, training and then deploying female and male deminers from the mine affected districts means that the landmine contaminated communities remain an integral component in the clearance process. Living and working in these communities, deminers are methodically ridding Cambodia of the landmine menace.[19]

Between 1991 and May 2010, HALO Cambodia cleared over 6,115 hectares (15,110 acres) of landmine contaminated land whilst destroying over 229,000 landmines, 139,200 items of large calibre ammunition and 1.28 million bullets.[19]

Alongside clearance work HALO's survey teams have continued to systematically clarify the nature and magnitude of landmine contamination in Cambodia. The current focus of HALO's survey teams is the Baseline Survey of Cambodia, a Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) led process to quantify the true nature of the remaining mine threat in Cambodia.[20]

Sri Lanka[edit]

In May 2009, the Sri Lankan Government declared an end to two decades of armed conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE),[21] who had been seeking a separate homeland, or 'Eelam', for Tamils in the north and east of the country.

Landmines were used to varying degrees by both sides at different stages of the conflict.[22] Most mines are of the anti-personnel type, laid to protect bases or defensive areas, and to contain troop movements. Some nuisance mine-laying also took place, which included the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), though this was largely a tactic of the LTTE.[23]

The vast majority of mines in Sri Lanka were laid on the Jaffna peninsula during the 1990s. Most of these were laid in dense well-structured belts by government forces, in the course of successive advances. However, mines were also laid on the peninsula by the LTTE; generally in 'nuisance minefields', where the mines were laid at random, and scattered over wide areas.[23]

During this same period extensive minefields were also laid by forces garrisoning 'Elephant Pass', the strategically important access-way linking the mainland and Kilinochchi District to the Jaffna Peninsula. Permanent Forward Defence Lines (FDLs) were later established by both sides in the lead up to the 2002 cease-fire agreement, and further fortified thereafter. The northern FDL stretches (in depth) down the neck of Jaffna isthmus. Meanwhile, on the southern FDL, extensive mine-panels run the breadth of the island (from the Mannar 'rice-bowl') across Vavuniya, and on to the coast of Mulaittivu.[23]

Mine clearance in Sri Lanka has been shaped by the war with the LTTE. Soon after demining started in 1999, it was halted by the fighting. When it resumed in 2002, the creation of the National Steering Committee for Mine Action (NSCMA) paved the way for a more concerted demining effort involving international NGOs, such as HALO. The collapse of the (2002) ceasefire agreement in 2006 and escalating fighting severely constrained the pace of humanitarian aid and demining. The LTTE's defeat in May 2009 led to a new government focus on demining as a prerequisite for resettlement of people displaced by the conflict.[24]

HALO has been working in Sri Lanka since 2002, with 1,045 demining staff currently in the provinces of Jaffna, Kilinochchi and Mulaittivu. HALO teams conduct manual and mechanical mineclearance alongside survey and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD).[23]


One of the results of the Second Indochina War (1964 to 1973) is the magnitude of the UXO problem remaining in Laos. During the conflict, the country was subject to heavy aerial bombardment, resulting in the world’s largest contamination from unexploded submunitions. It is estimated that over 2 million tons of bombs were dropped on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. During the same period, anti-personnel and anti-tank mines were laid along the country’s borders and around military bases and airfields.

While the number of mine and UXO related accidents continue to decrease, over 25% of all villages in Laos still remain contaminated, primarily with UXO. Agricultural activities provide employment for over 80% of the country’s population and remain crucial to poverty reduction in Lao PDR. This has been identified by both the Government and the international institutions. UXO contamination poses a serious obstacle to this improvement and development. Cluster munitions prevent access to potential agricultural land and, as demand and pressure for fertile land increase, villagers take risks every day in cultivating areas affected by UXO and accidents continue to occur.

HALO’s survey, EOD and UXO clearance program will initially focus on two eastern districts in Savannakhet Province. In the Laos Government’s country-wide rating of district development levels, these two districts rank among the poorest districts as measured by the national poverty index and suffer some of the highest UXO accident rates. The UXO problem in Laos will be solved through accurate survey, correct clearance prioritisation and, most importantly, the implementation of large-scale clearance. Regionally HALO has over 1,000 local staff in both Sri Lanka and Cambodia and almost 4,000 in Afghanistan conducting such clearance operations. The Government of Laos requires this scale of clearance if Millennium Development Goal 9 (reduce the impact of UXO) is to be met.

The Government of Lao PDR aims to have cleared 200,000 hectares of contaminated priority land by 2020. With the current clearance rates in Laos ranging between 4,000 - 5,000 hectares (all agencies) of contaminated land per year, increasing clearance capacities and efficiencies are crucial to achieving this goal. Given that casualties are still occurring almost 40 years after the bombings ended, and contamination is so widespread, there is a clear requirement for increased clearance operations in order to ensure that high value agricultural land is cleared from the current threat in a shorter timeframe and the number of casualties is substantially reduced.


The Landmine Monitor reports “When compared to other countries, Myanmar has produced the third highest number of known casualties due to antipersonnel landmines, globally, over the past six years”. Landmines are concentrated in the states around Burma’s borders with Bangladesh and Thailand after decades of war between government and ethnic minority armed groups. With the recent opening up of this isolated country, HALO established an office in Burma and is working closely with government authorities in preparation for a survey and mineclearance program. This is particularly pertinent in the light of refugee return initiatives where landmine removal will be crucial to safe resettlement.



The Government of Mozambique announced that the country was free of all known landmines in September 2015.[25]

In the northern half of Mozambique all known minefields have been cleared:[26] a total of 552 minefields containing 100,843 mines. HALO concluded 14 years of mineclearance with a survey of every community in order to confirm that there are no known minefields remaining.[27]

In 2007, HALO was asked to conduct a Baseline Assessment of the situation. This was completed in October 2007.[27] The findings showed that there are 541 confirmed minefields[28] remaining and large minefields in the Cahora Bassa Dam area and on the border with Zimbabwe. These minefields were a danger to the lives of ordinary people and inhibited their ability to use the land and develop their livelihoods.[27]


For more than 40 years, the population of Angola has been severely impacted by landmines and other ERW, and is believed to still be one of the most mined countries in the world.[29] Between 1962 and 1972, it is believed that there were a total of 2,571 landmines incidents in Angola.[30] Estimates for the total number of ERW casualties in Angola vary hugely, from 23,000 to 80,000.[31]

HALO has worked in Angola since 1994. Considerable progress is being made; even so, HALO estimates that there is still in the region of 10 years' work to rid Angola of all landmines.

To tackle the threat from AT mines on roads, HALO developed the Road Threat Reduction (RTR) system. RTR is a two part process: first, systematic sweeps are made with a large detector to find metal-cased AT mines; this is followed by heavy detonation trailers designed to detonate any minimum metal mine still capable of operating. HALO also fields Weapons & Ammunition Disposal teams working in support of the Angolan Army, Navy, Air Force and Police to manage the considerable stocks of weapons and ammunition that were amassed during the Civil War.

By 2015 HALO had cleared more than 780 minefields (21,500 hectares of land) and destroyed more than 90,000 landmines and 160,000 items of unexploded ordnance. The majority of ammunition destroyed is made up of aircraft bombs but includes guided missiles and cluster bomb sub-munitions.[32] More than a decade after the end of the war, accidents continue to occur and communities continue to be impacted by the threat of mines.


Mine removal operation northeast of Hargeisa

Somaliland is an unrecognised de facto independent state located in northwest Somalia in the Horn of Africa.[33]

Minelaying occurred during the 1964 and 1977-78 border wars with Ethiopia, when minefields were laid predominantly along the Ethiopian border. This border and important access routes were heavily mined.[34] Between 1981 and 1991, the Somali National Movement (SNM), a rebel army of mostly northern Somali followers, waged an armed insurrection against the regime of Mohamed Said Barre, which saw use of landmines against the civilian population, their homes and farmlands. The civil war caused large-scale population displacement from the principal cities of Hargeisa, Burco and Berbera. The conflict, which had its roots in grievances over power sharing and the state control of economic assets, was portrayed by the government as a struggle between SNM nationalists (defending Somaliland's independence) and government federalists advocating a relationship with Somalia.[35]

The most recent use of landmines in Somaliland took place between 1994 and 1995,[34] when militias opposed to the regime of Somaliland President Mohamed Ibrahim Egal and loyalist forces fought fierce battles south and east of Hargeisa (the capital).[35] In 2009 the House of Representatives approved legislation banning the use of anti-personnel (AP) mines.[36]

HALO's programme in Somaliland was established in 1999 and employs over 500 national staff members. HALO operates 41 manual clearance sections, two battle area clearance (BAC) sections, four survey / explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams, six mechanical teams and one mines risk education (MRE) team. These are deployed across Somaliland from Awdal region in the north-west to the regions of Sool and Sanaag in the east.[35]

Besides conducting clearance for humanitarian benefits, HALO is also addressing the problem of explosive security. A pilot Weapons and Ammunition Disposal (WAD) programme has been established to work with both the police and the military on this issue.[35]

Since the start of 2007, HALO has been conducting a re-assessment to identify the remaining mines problem and the assets required to clear the remaining mine and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) problem in a reasonable time frame.[35]


During the Liberation War of the 1970s Rhodesian forces laid an extensive series of minefields along the borders between Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) and Zambia and Mozambique in an attempt to prevent insurgents from moving in and out of the country for training and re-supplies. Initially anti-personnel mines were laid in very dense belts (reportedly 5,500 mines per kilometer of frontage) to form a “cordon sanitaire”. Over time the cordon sanitaire was breached or was subject to erosion and so, in many sections, a second belt of directional fragmentation mines guarded by anti-personnel mines were laid “inland” of the cordon sanitaire. Anti-tank mines were used extensively by the insurgents but the majority were either detonated by vehicles or were cleared in the years immediately after the war.

Zimbabwe is a signatory of the Ottawa Convention and, by January 2015, must produce a detailed plan of how it will achieve its Convention undertakings. It is therefore imperative that both survey and clearance operations start as soon as possible. Survey teams will refine the information on the extent of the problem while demining teams will start addressing areas of the highest humanitarian priority. Sufficient information exists for demining teams to be able to deploy immediately. HALO has been given initial responsibility for survey and clearance of the border minefields running from Musengeli in Mashonaland Central to Rwenya in Northern Manicaland, some 139 square kilometres in total. Zimbabwe is one of the world’s most highly mine impacted countries in the world and the time and resources required to deal with it will be correspondingly large. It will be possible to make more accurate estimations of time and cost once the next phase of survey has been completed and some clearance has been undertaken to establish mine density and corresponding clearance rates.

In addition to the existing survey teams HALO is seeking to train and deploy 200+ deminers by the end of 2013 and aim to grow the programme to 1,500+ national staff by the end of 2015.




HALO fields demining staff both in Georgia proper and in the breakaway region of Abkhazia.


Abkhazia was declared mine free on 3 November 2011.

Both Georgian and Abkhaz forces used landmines extensively during the war of 1992-93. Mines were also used in varying degrees between the May 1994 cease-fire and the late 1990s by individuals and small groups, primarily in relation to criminal activities.

The landmines laid during the war were concentrated along well defined lines of conflict and key terrain. The Gumista and Inguri rivers, the Gali Canal, the Kodori Valley and Abkhazia’s main road were all heavily mined areas of tactical importance. Post conflict these mined areas prevented the safe resumption of agricultural activities and light industry. They also denied safe transit to the population of Abkhazia.

HALO conducted an extensive landmine survey of Abkhazia between 1997 and 2000 in close cooperation with both sides from the conflict.

Although all known minefields have been cleared, Abkhazia is mountainous and sparsely populated and it is possible that small, currently unknown minefields will be discovered. A capacity is needed to deal with such finds and in 2012 four previously unknown mined paths were discovered and cleared by HALO.

Furthermore, significant quantities of unexploded and abandoned ordnance continue to be found and present a danger to the public. These items need to be dealt with promptly when found in order to minimise this threat.

Soviet Legacy minefields[edit]

The bulk of the remaining mines problem in Georgia comes from minefields laid around former Soviet military bases. There are several areas outside Georgia's conflict zones where mines and unexploded ordnance continue to cause casualties. These include former military bases, remote border areas and training areas which have returned to civilian use.[37]

In 2009, a national survey of minefields remaining in Georgia found a total of 15 contaminated sites. Of these 15, ten are identified as having a direct humanitarian impact. HALO is currently working on two of these minefields and hope to clear a further seven by the end of 2011.[38]

The clearance of minefields surrounding former Soviet military installations in Georgia is often complicated by significant quantities of waste and rubble. HALO have mechanical mineclearance techniques to clear such sites using adapted civil engineering plant such as armoured excavators and front-loading shovels.[38]

HALO currently employs over 100 staff in Georgia, the majority of whom come from within the mine-affected communities.[38]

Cluster munitions and other UXO[edit]

South Ossetian, Georgian and Russian forces clashed over a four-day period around the South Ossetian "capital" city of Tskhinvali in August 2008. Although minefields were not laid during this conflict, the heavy use of aircraft bombing, artillery and mortars resulted in widespread Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) and cluster munition contamination of this area. This contamination spread with the retreat of Georgian forces from Tskhinvali to the town of Gori in Georgia.[38]

Concurrent to the conflict centred on South Ossetia, targets were bombed elsewhere in Georgia, including the Upper Kodori region of Abkhazia. This contamination was largely limited to individual airbomb and rocket strikes, which were quickly addressed and cleared. The majority of remaining contamination was limited to a 20 km wide corridor between Gori and Tskhinvali where the high-intensity conflict took place. The main threat to these villages was from the extensive use of cluster munitions, but rocket strikes and abandoned ammunition also posed a threat.[38] The American NGO CNFA partnered with HALO to target the delivery of agricultural assistance to the farmers of Shida Kartli; this resulted in the region's largest ever apple and wheat harvests.[39]

HALO completed work in this region in December 2009 having cleared 3,402 hectares (8,410 acres) of land across 22 communities. 1,706 cluster munitions and 2,031 other items of ordnance were located and destroyed.[38]

Nagorno Karabakh[edit]

School posters in Karabakh educating children on mines and UXO

Nagorno Karabakh Republic is a disputed region in the South Caucasus. Internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, it is populated primarily by ethnic Armenians, who declared independence in 1988. This resulted in Nagorno-Karabakh War from 1992 to 1994, which ended with a ceasefire that left Nagorno Karabakh controlled by Armenians.[40]

Landmines were used extensively during the 1992–1994 war, as were large amounts of cluster munitions and other explosive ordnance. Since the war ended in 1994, 328 people have been killed or maimed by landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). The minefields and cluster bomb contamination continue to inhibit development and infrastructure projects, leaving farmers unable to cultivate large areas of fertile agricultural land.[41]

Since 2000 HALO has provided the only large-scale mine clearance capacity in Nagorno Karabakh and over the last 10 years HALO has cleared over 236 square kilometres of contaminated land and returned it to previously impacted communities. By mid-2010, HALO had found and destroyed in Nagorno Karabakh over 10,000 landmines, 10,000 cluster munitions and 45,000 other explosive items.[41]

HALO conducts both manual and mechanical clearance of minefields in Nagorno Karabakh. Cluster bomb strikes are cleared by HALO's Battle Area Clearance (BAC) teams whilst other items of UXO are cleared by HALO's Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams. HALO's programme is complemented by Survey and Mines Risk Education teams. 210 local staff are currently employed, managed by a single expatriate, while all other senior management positions are filled by locally recruited and trained staff.[42]

HALO has reported as cleared nearly 80% of minefields and about 70% of the area contaminated by cluster munitions in Nagorno Karabakh. The NGO believes the remaining areas can be cleared within the next five years but this timeframe depends on the continued availability of donor funds, which are on a downward slump. Without funding, HALO warns, the removal of all the minefields and cluster munitions will take longer, leaving impoverished rural communities blighted by mines and cluster munitions for years to come.[41]


Mine laying, predominantly by the army of the Former Republic of Yugoslavia but also by the Kosovo Liberation Army, took place primarily in 1999. In addition to the many items of UXO resulting from the conflict, the NATO bombing campaign in 1999 left unexploded cluster munitions in many locations across Kosovo.[43]

Between 1999 and 2001 the UN managed a large clearance programme in Kosovo[44] (under Security Council resolution 1244 giving the UN governance of the province[45]). The implementing agencies for clearance, of which HALO was the largest with over 400 staff, destroyed over 50,000 landmines, cluster munitions and other items of UXO.[46] Since 2002 a further 20,500 landmines, cluster munitions and other items of UXO have been cleared by the various implementing agencies.

HALO maintained demining and battle area clearance operations between 2004 and 2006 and conducted a country-wide Community Liaison Survey in 2006 and 2007. This survey identified 126 areas still in need of clearance, above and beyond the 46 areas recorded in the national database. HALO commenced a third phase of clearance operations in May 2008.[43]

In total since 1999, HALO has cleared over 38 hectares (94 acres) of mine contaminated land and 1,263 hectares (3,120 acres) of cluster munition contaminated land. In the process, HALO has destroyed 4,330 mines and 5,377 cluster submunitions and other explosive items.[43]

Minefields remain in rural areas in which impoverished communities rely on agriculture and woodcutting as their primary sources of income. Although human casualties due to mines are rare, many mine impacted communities have lost cattle and horses over the last few years, and there is the constant danger that expanding socio economic footprints around such communities will result in individual land users attempting to access some of the many hectares of land currently denied to them by landmines. The picturesque and unspoilt mountainous landscapes in Kosovo's south and west have the potential for a lucrative tourist industry but these are the areas most affected by mines. Many hectares of the hills in western Kosovo were recently burnt as firefighters were unable to access the area due to landmines detonating.[43]

Cluster munitions remain in many areas, both on the surface and buried. Since late 2007 three cluster munition accidents have caused the deaths of two people and severe injuries to a further five adults and children. Similarly to the threat posed by mines, cluster munitions impact most on the financially marginalised elements of society who rely on scrap collecting, woodcutting and cultivation for their livelihood. They also have an impact upon infrastructure projects and HALO has found and destroyed cluster munitions of road widening projects. Occasionally clearance cannot keep up with development and at least one cluster munition was uncovered by road construction teams in 2010.[43]

The World Bank's Kosovo Poverty Assessment 2007[47] highlights that 45 percent of Kosovo's population is classified as "poor", living on less than €1.42 per day, with a further 18 percent considered to be vulnerable to poverty. 15% of the population is extremely poor, which is defined as "individuals who have difficulty meeting their basic nutritional needs" Many of the poorest communities live in proximity to the remaining minefields and cluster strikes, with two thirds of Kosovo's poor living in rural areas.

HALO currently has three teams and a total of 65 demining staff accredited and deployed clearing minefields and cluster munition strikes.[43]


Since 2016 HALO is involved in clearing landmines laid during the War in Donbass.[48]

South America[edit]


For the last 40 years left wing Non States Armed Groups (NSAGs) have been in conflict with the Government.[49] This has resulted in the use of locally manufactured mines and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), collectively described as "mines". The Colombian military laid defensive mines around 34 of their bases whilst NSAGs and paramilitary organisations have used them in all aspects of their operations. The Colombian military have now completed clearance of 31 of the minefields they laid but an estimated 10,000 suspected NSAG minefields remain. These have largely been the reason why Colombia now has similar landmine casualties to Afghanistan.[50]

Colombia ranks second, behind Sudan, with the largest number of internally displaced people (IDPs)[51] and these populations are now experiencing high casualty and accident rates as they return to their areas of former residence.[50]

Mines laid by NSAGs are found on routes used by government forces and around schools and houses used as bases in rural areas. The Colombian government formally invited HALO Trust in June 2009 to implement a large-scale civilian clearance program which is currently in the survey and assessment stages.[50]

HALO is the first civilian organisation to have a formal agreement and registration with the Colombian government and is currently surveying prioritised mined areas in preparation for humanitarian clearance operations.[50]


HALO UK Trustees[edit]

  • Timothy Church (Chairman)
  • Mark Aedy
  • Patrick Beeley
  • Anthony Bird
  • Jane Davis
  • Alnimah Elbagir
  • Mia Hamwey
  • Paddy Nicoll
  • Rupert Younger

Chief Executive

HALO USA Trustees[edit]

  • Mia Hamwey (Chair)
  • Andrew Lyons
  • Nick Nobbs
  • Amanda Pullinger
  • Anastasia Staten
  • Rexon Ryu
  • Brad Tirpak
  • Nigel Robinson


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  2. ^ "Mozambique: Nation Declared Free of Land Mines". 17 September 2015. Retrieved 16 May 2018 – via AllAfrica. 
  3. ^ Smith, David (17 September 2015). "Flash and a bang as Mozambique is declared free of landmines". the Guardian. Retrieved 16 May 2018. 
  4. ^ "Scots charity in landmine milestone". 11 December 2015. Retrieved 16 May 2018 – via www.bbc.co.uk. 
  5. ^ Sanchez, Raf (15 May 2016). "British land mine charity made famous by Princess Diana wants to clear explosives from the site of Jesus Christ's baptism". Retrieved 16 May 2018 – via www.telegraph.co.uk. 
  6. ^ http://www.halotrust.org/sites/default/files/Signed%20accounts_31%20March%202014%20-%201%20MB_0.pdf
  7. ^ "404 Not Found - Civil Society". Retrieved 16 May 2018. 
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External links[edit]