The HALO Trust has been awarded a grant totalling $346,000 from the Government of Japan’s Grassroots Grant Programme (GGP) to continue humanitarian demining and clearance of ordnance in Georgia.
The grant enables HALO to employ 25 locally, recruited staff to complete mine clearance at a former Soviet military base near Chognari and Godogani villages in Imereti, which was initially funded by the GGP in 2016. The grant also allows HALO to begin technical survey and clearance of the territories adjusted to the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) within the Tskhinvali Region of Georgia
In the past year, HALO’s clearance at Chognari revealed new hazardous areas. This grant enables HALO to clear these additional locations and complete clearance of the Chognari task.
During the Georgian Civil War, mines were laid around the perimeter of the former military base at Chognari, which was also the site of an uncontrolled explosion, littering the area with unexploded ordnance. The now-abandoned base continues to threaten the lives and livelihoods of more than 4,500 villagers who live nearby and depend on the land for grazing their livestock.
HALO will also conduct technical survey of the whole extent of the ABL, in the Shida Kartli region of Georgia, and where possible, clearance of explosive remnants of war (ERW). For the local population living nearby, ERW continues to be a concern. HALO plans to conduct survey in at least seven villages to determine whether the danger still exists.
Since 2010, the Government of Japan has provided generous support to HALO’s humanitarian work, and HALO has been working in Georgia since 2008.
James Cowan, CEO for HALO, noted Japan’s leadership in committing to a mine-free Georgia:
“We are immensely grateful to the Government of Japan for its continued support of our work in Georgia,” said Cowan. “We hope that this funding inspires other governments to follow Japan’s lead and make the final investment necessary to rid Georgia of mines forever.”
Once the Chognari site is cleared, the Government of Georgia plans to build a waste processing facility and erect water-supply reservoirs for Kutaisi, the second biggest city in Georgia, which will give more than 200,000 people access to pure drinking water.
A signing ceremony to commemorate the grant was held in Tbilisi on 2 March 2017, at the official residence of the Japanese Ambassador in Georgia, His Excellency Mr. Toshio Kaitani.
Representatives from the US and Japanese embassies, the Georgian Ministry of Defence, as well as local municipalities, attended the ceremony.