HALO emergency response in Georgia

Following the August 2008 conflict between Russia and Georgia, the US Department of State prepared a large-scale humanitarian response. HALO's longstanding presence in Georgia and the Caucasus region made it the natural partner of choice for the US government in addressing the problem of explosive remnants of the conflict.

Within days after direct hostilities ceased, HALO survey teams were deployed to the various conflict areas to assess the threat to the civilian population. A special website was set up to provide other aid agencies with the most current threat assessments by location. As well as providing emergency risk education to over 20,000 returnees to areas of the conflict, HALO also provides regular focal point briefs for the UN, EU, OSCE, ICRC, Embassies / Donors and other agencies operating within Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) impacted areas.

Clearance teams have been deployed to the highest priority sites - since late August 2008 HALO teams have destroyed over 15,000 mines, cluster bombs and other ordnance in the wake of the recent conflict. "The HALO Trust developed and executed a model emergency Explosive Remnants of War plan", said Dennis Hadrick, Program Manager at the State Department's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement. "It provided immediate assistance to innocent civilians and relief workers and allowed many displaced persons to return to their homes more quickly and safely than we have ever seen before in post-conflict operations."

Twenty-eight HALO teams (200 demining staff) have been trained, equipped and deployed in Georgia (Gori Tskhinvali region) since September primarily clearing cluster bomb strikes. A further 80 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Staff have been clearing UXO in the Upper Kodori Region of Abkhazia.