A high-level delegation from the UK Government saw first-hand the vital work of a US-funded team that has already destroyed more than 12,500 items of unexploded ordnance (UXO).
Secretary of State for International Development, Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP, visited MAG’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians at a site near Garowe town, Puntland, earlier in the year to witness the demolition of lethal ordnance cleared.
MAG Somalia Country Director, Tristan Grinsted, said: “We were honoured to host Mr Mitchell and his colleagues, and to be able to show them how vital MAG’s work still is to so many people in Somalia.”
The current lack of central government, combined with widespread insecurity and a thriving illicit arms trade, has lead to protracted periods of fighting in the country.
Unsecured stockpiles of weapons represent a security threat as they risk being looted, with munitions and explosives being taken by armed groups and pirates for lethal and unlawful purposes – including the manufacture of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
MAG’s experience in Puntland and South Central Somalia to date suggests that during the conflict many people have tried to clear UXO themselves, causing serious injury or death from accidental explosions.
Large quantities of UXO have also been stored in people’s homes, while many public areas of the main towns remain contaminated.
MAG has been working in Somalia since 2007, initially providing technical assistance and oversight to police EOD teams.
With vital funding of more than $3.1 million from the US Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, MAG has been able to recruit and train teams, providing the necessary resources and expertise to destroy conventional weapons, including UXO. These remnants of war present a major obstacle to peace and development in Somalia.
“Twenty years of war has left a terrifying legacy of landmines and UXO in Somalia," said Tristan. “The visit and demolition hopefully illustrated what impact organisations like MAG can have by removing and destroying these deadly remnants of conflict.”
“Thanks to the support of the US Government’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, this EOD team has removed and destroyed over 90 tonnes – 12,500 items – of UXO and cleared land equivalent in size to over 130 football pitches.”