2013 To Walk the Earth in Safety: Africa
A HALO survey team talks with community members in Somalia.
The world’s second largest continent, Africa contains 54 diverse nations, nine territories, and three de facto states. According to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), 20 new democracies have emerged in sub-Saharan Africa since 1989. However, despite reforms and abundant resources, USAID reports that three-fourths of Africa’s population lives in poverty. Much of Africa is recovering from decades of conflicts that have displaced, impoverished, injured, and killed millions. These conflicts have also resulted in extensive contamination from explosive remnants of war, which hinder economic and social development. Additionally, the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) has heightened tensions and increased violent crime throughout the continent. Since 1993, U.S. conventional weapons destruction programs have provided more than $322 million for mine clearance, the destruction of SA/LW, and improved security and safety of remaining stockpiles in a total of 31 countries in the region. Nigeria and Burundi declared themselves to be mine-free in late 2011, while Uganda declared itself mine impact-free in 2012.
Three decades of internal conflict have left Angola the most mine-impacted country in Africa; all 18 provinces are contaminated with mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW). The 2007 Angola Landmine Impact Survey identified mine/ERW contamination in 1,968 localities, affecting approximately 2.4 million people. Additionally, thousands of refugees continue to be resettled in mine-affected areas in the Moxico province. The Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor identified 2,823 mine/ERW casualties from 2000 through 2011, though total casualty estimates range from 23,000 to 80,000. Angola also faces an ongoing threat from small arms and light weapons (SA/LW). Angola estimates that hundreds of thousands of SA/LW are in civilian hands and that even more remain in poorly secured government stockpiles.
Children drinking water from a well at the Lumege-Canjamba primary school in Angola. The area around the school was contaminated with landmines during Angola’s long civil war, preventing many children from coming to school and limiting the movement of those who did. MAG (Mines Advisory Group) cleared the area of mines and other remnants of war.
From FY1993 to FY2012 the United States invested $97,589,076 in Angola, of which $80,204,076 was from the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA). This funding supported projects that cleared and safely disposed of hundreds of thousands of landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO); improved the lives of hundreds of victims affected by landmine/UXO accidents; increased access to thousands of acres of previously contaminated land and thousands of miles of roads; destroyed 100,000 SA/LW and more than 1,500 tons of unstable, excess, and poorly secured munitions; and developed Angola’s conventional weapons destruction (CWD) capacity.
In FY2012 PM/WRA provided $8,675,076 to Angola for CWD programs that cleared landmines and UXO from contaminated land, provided mine risk education (MRE), and destroyed excess, unsecure, and unstable SA/LW and munitions from the country’s stockpiles. Funding supported these ongoing humanitarian demining and related activities:
- DanChurchAid continued demining in the Moxico province, including clearance of roads, survey of suspected hazardous areas (SHA), UXO spot tasks, post-clearance surveys, and MRE.
- The HALO Trust (HALO) continued operations in four provinces (Benguela, Bie, Huambo, and Kwando Kubango), including clearance of roads, survey of SHAs, UXO spot tasks, post-clearance surveys, and MRE. A second grant from PM/WRA supports the destruction of excess, unstable, and poorly secured SA/LW and munitions throughout the country.
- MAG (Mines Advisory Group) continued demining efforts in Moxico province, including clearance of roads, survey of SHAs, UXO spot tasks, post-clearance surveys, and MRE.
- Norwegian People’s Aid continued clearance in three provinces (Malanje, Uige, and Zaire), including clearance of roads, survey of SHAs, UXO spot tasks, post-clearance surveys, and MRE.
The U.S. Department of Defense Humanitarian Demining Research and Development (HD R&D) Program, in partnership with HALO, continued a technology evaluation of the Rotary Mine Comb (RMC). The RMC’s intermeshing tines extricate large buried objects, including anti-tank (AT) mines, from the soil and push them to the side of the host vehicle’s path. The RMC locates mines that are otherwise undetectable on roads that, though previously cleared by heavy detonation trailers, persist in having AT mine accidents. Since 2008, HALO has cleared 45 kilometers (28 miles) of road and 51 low-metal AT mines that were undetectable by metal detectors. While the progress seems modest, the impact is substantial, considering that the alternative is complete hand excavation of the entire road. The completed, minefree road will reconnect more than 200,000 people in southeast Kwando Kubango province with the rest of Angola. The HD R&D Program also continued the evaluation of a JCB Loadall with HALO. Total assistance is valued at $850,000.
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has experienced many years of war as non-state actors (NSA) and neighboring countries vied for political and economic power. These conflicts killed three to five million Congolese and left the countryside littered with explosive remnants of war (ERW) and landmines. While the scale of conflict in DRC has been increasingly limited to its eastern provinces, the black market in small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) has yet to abate significantly. NSAs in these areas continue to terrorize Congolese civilians and occasionally conduct small-scale cross-border operations against neighboring countries. Porous borders between Burundi, DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda facilitate arms smuggling to various conflicts, and instances of external state support to Congolese rebels continued in 2012. As a result of these active and latent conflicts, SA/LW trafficking and ERW contamination pose significant challenges to peacebuilding and stability in DRC.
Weapons to be destroyed by the U.N. Mine Action Coordination Center in Goma, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Since FY2006, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) has invested $6,848,462 in DRC, with $750,000 provided to MAG (Mines Advisory Group) to carry out conventional weapons destruction programs in FY2012. This grant to MAG and prior support allowed for the destruction of more than 132,000 SA/LW, approximately 850 tons of munitions, 245 anti-tank mines, 2,007 anti-personnel mines, and 12 man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS); improved host nation’s physical security and stockpile management (PSSM); and supported the DRC government’s still-limited capacity to mark and trace all state-owned weapons.
In September 2009 DRC requested assistance from U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) to help reestablish a mine action company in Kisangani, DRC. This unit, a company of engineers in the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (Armed Forces of DRC or FARDC), was previously trained by the Belgian Army in 2002. Two missions were conducted in 2009 to establish a baseline and evaluate personnel knowledge base and ability, and in 2010 four missions were completed. USAFRICOM conducted two missions in FY2012 and is planning one mission in Kisangani for FY2013. As the FARDC engineers are operating independently, USAFRICOM will conduct yearly assessment visits in Kisangani. Total USAFRICOM support in FY2012 was $233,000.
Mozambique’s landmine and explosive remnants of war (ERW) contamination was once one of the most severe in the world, a legacy from 30 years of conflict that ended in 1992. Almost two decades of humanitarian demining has significantly reduced the country’s mine contamination. As of October 2012, Mozambique’s Instituto Nacional de Desminagem (National Institute for Demining or IND) reported that 11.6 million square meters (4.5 square miles) of land remains contaminated, to be cleared in 265 remaining tasks. Mozambique plans to have all internally mined areas cleared of known mines by March 2014, with only the Mozambique-Zimbabwe border minefields left to clear.
A U.S.-funded HALO deminer excavates a suspected mine on the Mozambique-Zimbabwe border. The white stakes in the background represent mines that have been found and destroyed. Photo courtesy of Darren Manning, PM/WRA, U.S. Dept. of State.
From FY1993 to FY2012 the United States invested $49,617,000 in Mozambique for the clearance and safe disposal of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO), improving the lives of mine and UXO survivors, increasing access to land and infrastructure, and supporting the development of host nation conventional weapons destruction (CWD) capacity. Of these funds, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) provided $29,557,000.
In FY2012 PM/WRA provided $2,635,000 to the nongovernmental organization (NGO) The HALO Trust (HALO). With this funding, HALO conducted manual and mechanical clearance of mine and ERW impacted communities, survey and re-survey of suspected hazard areas, and mine risk education. HALO also conducted community mine-free surveys in Manica, Maputo, and Tete provinces, helping Mozambique work toward its goal of becoming mine impact-free. These clearance activities measurably improve the lives of local populations by reducing the risk of injury and death from landmines, while opening new land for agricultural and economic development. Finally, demining activities serve as a prerequisite for subsequent health and other development assistance.
In 2009 U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) initiated engagement with the Forças Armadas de Defesa de Moçambique (Mozambique Armed Defense Forces or FADM) Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) Company. USAFRICOM’s 2010 missions focused on explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and ERW, battle area clearance (BAC) operations, and vehicle maintenance. With U.S. assistance, the FADM HMA Company conducted limited demining operations near Chokwe, three hours northwest of Maputo. This was completed with the assistance of Anti-Persoonsmijnen Ontmijnende Product Onwikkeling (Anti-personnel Landmines Detection Product Development or APOPO), a humanitarian demining NGO. The FADM unit is now working on demining in Maxixe. In FY2012 USAFRICOM conducted two missions to continue building capacity. As FADM is now self-sufficient in demining training, there will be no further USAFRICOM HMA engagement with the FADM HMA Company. Total cost of support to FADM was $404,000.
To further support Mozambique’s ongoing landmine clearance effort, USAFRICOM provided mobile training to IND and NGO operators in February 2013 and implemented another training mission in April 2013. The training mission took place at IND’s new training center in Inhambane, Mozambique. The center will support the training of police and national HMA teams who will serve as EOD/mine response teams once all known minefields are cleared and humanitarian demining NGOs depart. Teams will be responsible for clearing nuisance mines, UXO and explosive hazards throughout Mozambique utilizing small (four to five person), highly mobile teams.
Also in FY2012 the U.S. Department of Defense Humanitarian Demining Research and Development (HD R&D) Program, in partnership with HALO, began an evaluation of the dual-sensor Handheld Standoff Mine Detection System (HSTAMIDS) and continued the evaluation of two Orbit Screens. HALO began evaluating HSTAMIDS in mid-FY2012 against new mine types and terrain conditions, finding 1,246 mines in areas covering 8,055 square meters (2 acres). The Orbit Screens are clearing areas around power line pylons, providing access to critical infrastructure. Since January 2011, the Orbit Screens have sifted 113,000 cubic meters (147,798 cubic yards) of soil, uncovering 227 mines and items of UXO. HD R&D technologies operated by HALO are valued at $235,000.
Two decades of civil war and internal conflicts, as well as periodic border conflicts, have resulted in extensive landmine and explosive remnants of war (ERW) contamination in Somalia. The successful completion of Somalia’s political transition in 2012, however, resulted in a new provisional federal constitution, federal parliament, and president. As a result, on January 17, 2013, the United States recognized the government of Somalia for the first time since 1991. Due to the hard-won success of the African Union Mission in Somalia and the Somalia National Security Forces against al-Shabaab, an al-Qaida aligned terrorist group, the United States and its implementing partners are now able to work in areas previously inaccessible due to security concerns. Al-Shabaab has been pushed out of all major population centers over the past year and faces increased pressure, yet it remains a threat to Somalia and the region. Supplied with abandoned stockpiles of arms and munitions found among civilian populations, al-Shabaab has turned to asymmetrical warfare, planting improvised explosive devices and conducting ambushes. Trafficking illicit conventional weapons is widespread, and illegal arms proliferation continues across Somalia’s porous borders in contravention of the U.N. Security Council’s arms embargo on Somalia. These unsecured weapons and munitions threaten Somalia’s civilian population and regional stability.
A HALO operations officer in Somalia logs explosive items handed over by the community for disposal.
From FY2008 to FY2012 the United States invested more than $8.9 million in conventional weapons destruction (CWD) programs in Somalia, mainly in Somaliland.
In FY2012 the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) provided $2.5 million for CWD programs in Somalia to clear and safely dispose of mines and unexploded ordnance, assist with physical security and stockpile management (PSSM), and recover and disable man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS). This assistance, directed through grants to international nongovernmental organizations, has made progress toward restoring safety and improving security in the region:
- Danish Demining Group (DDG) administered two emergency survey and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams to clear mines and ERW in Mogadishu and along the Somali-Ethiopian border. DDG also worked to enhance national capacity using International Mine Action Standards accredited qualifications to conduct quality control, quality assurance, and task planning of mine action operations.
- The HALO Trust cleared mines and ERW and supplied PSSM infrastructure investment and training. This work included manual demining, battle area clearance, survey and EOD teams, and the destruction of a limited number of MANPADS.
MAG (Mines Advisory Group) worked to improve conventional arms and munitions PSSM practices in collaboration with local police.
South Sudan, until July 2011 a part of Sudan, has been impacted by the negative effects of war since 1956, when Sudan gained independence from the United Kingdom and Egypt. Ending in 2011, more than two decades of civil war left behind extensive mine and explosive remnants of war (ERW) contamination in the country. More recently, inter-ethnic conflicts, clashes over disputed territory with Sudan, and the regional threat of the Lord’s Resistance Army have also led to increased contamination and reduced security. The abundance of unsecure small arms and light weapons (SA/LW), including man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS), pose a great risk to safety, security, and development in South Sudan, the world’s newest nation.
Not far from Jangabura village, South Sudan, members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army show a PM/WRA-funded MAG explosive ordnance disposal/ small arms and light weapons team a stockpile of mortars, rockets, and projectiles. The team sorts the items for demolition.
From FY1993 to FY2011 the United States provided $30.5 million in funding for conventional weapons destruction (CWD) efforts in Sudan, a large majority of which was allocated to the South. After South Sudan gained independence in 2011, CWD programs in South Sudan began to receive funds directly in FY2012.
In FY2012 the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) granted $2.8 million to international nongovernmental organizations in South Sudan for CWD programs that cleared ERW and SA/LW, supported long-term remediation of ERW contamination, and promoted local capacity building:
- MAG (Mines Advisory Group) supported an 11-person explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and SA/LW team and a community liaison team, which contributed to the disposal of abandoned ordnance and SA/LW stockpiles and safe clearance of unexploded ordnance throughout South Sudan.
- Norwegian People’s Aid continued its support of EOD and battle area clearance (BAC) teams in Equatoria and Upper Nile and conducted route survey and spot EOD and BAC tasks as necessary in Jonglei.
- Fondation Suisse de Déminage (Swiss Foundation for Mine Action or FSD) continued EOD support, manual and mechanical demining training activities, and operational capacity building for the South Sudan Integrated Mine Action Service (SIMAS), a South Sudanese nongovernmental organization. In addition to clearance activities by two manual demining teams and one rapid response/EOD team, the grant specifically focused on building the technical competence of SIMAS through skill transfer and job training; strengthening the managerial capacity to support mine clearance operations financially, administratively, and logistically; and providing assistance and guidance to the SIMAS board of trustees.
In January 2012 U.S. Africa Command’s (USAFRICOM) Humanitarian Mine Action Program was tasked to engage in the development process of the South Sudan Mine Action Authority and provide initial training and equipment through a train-the-trainer program. The Combined Joint Task Force–Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) was assigned as the force provider to South Sudan and conducted three train-the-trainer missions in Juba, South Sudan in FY2012. CJTF-HOA will conduct four missions in FY2013 centering on demining, EOD International Mine Action Standards Levels I and II, stockpile management and reduction operations, and medical first-responder techniques. Total support from USAFRICOM in FY2012 was $367,000.
Zimbabwe’s landmine contamination is largely a legacy of the guerrilla warfare surrounding its independence in the 1970s. Documents from the Rhodesian Security Forces indicate that more than 2.5 million anti-personnel (AP) mines and 67,000 AP fragmentation mines were laid in Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia. Remaining contamination is estimated at 200 square kilometers (77 square miles), comprising almost 600 linear kilometers (373 miles) along the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border.
From FY1997 to FY2000 the United States invested $6,351,000 in Zimbabwe to improve the capacity of Zimbabwe’s National Demining Authority (ZIMAC) by equipping and training multiple companies of military engineers. This support contributes to the development of host nation capacity in conventional weapons destruction (CWD) and allows Zimbabwe to clear and safely dispose of mines and unexploded ordnance and improve access to land and infrastructure. Of this support, $3,086,000 came from the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA).
In FY2012 PM/WRA provided $250,000 to The HALO Trust for a humanitarian mine action program in Zimbabwe that supported manual clearance of mine-impacted communities, explosive remnants of war clearance, survey and re-survey of suspected hazardous areas, and mine risk education. This work will reduce the risk of landmine incidents for the local population and open up previously contaminated land for agricultural and economic development.
Unsecure and unstable stockpiles of small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) and munitions heighten security concerns throughout Africa. Beyond the physical security and stockpile management (PSSM) efforts in Africa listed in earlier country profiles, the United States has also provided PSSM support in other African countries.
In addition to its work in Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, and South Sudan, U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) provided support in the following countries:
- Burundi: USAFRICOM has been engaged with the Burundi humanitarian mine action (HMA) program since the fall of 2010 and has conducted two to three missions per year with Burundian engineers in Bujumbura. These missions focused on explosive ordnance disposal (EOD), explosive remnants of war (ERW) operations, and stockpile reduction. Total support in FY2012 was $201,000.
- Chad: USAFRICOM began working in Chad in FY2010. Supported initially by the Combined Joint Task Force–Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), one mission in FY2011 centered on EOD and ERW operations training. In FY2012 the mission expanded to include demining, stockpile management, and medical first-responder training. An instructor from the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) supported these missions. The Chad National Demining Authority (CND) assisted U.S. instructors in leading some of the classes. In 2012 Chad was reassigned to U.S. Army Africa. Ongoing efforts will focus on continued development of the CND training center, which can provide long-term instruction in all HMA skill sets. The total cost of support in FY2012 was $414,000.
- Kenya: USAFRICOM has supported the Humanitarian Peace Support School (HPSS), a regional center for HMA, in Embakasi, Nairobi, since early 2009. These efforts support the training of HPSS HMA instructors, building capacity in EOD/ERW operations and conventional stockpile management, and extend USAFRICOM’s reach regionally to areas not accessible due to travel and force-protection concerns, including ongoing conflict. These partnerships are essential to expanding USAFRICOM’s HMA Program regionally at minimal cost to the United States. HPSS HMA instructors took the lead for all classes in FY2012. These HMA missions are supported by CJTF-HOA, which will conduct two engagements annually for the foreseeable future. Total support in FY2012 was $236,000.
- Namibia: USAFRICOM has engaged with the Namibian Defense Force and police for the past three years. In 2010 two missions were conducted to provide EOD/ERW operations and medical first-responder training. These missions are a key engagement tool for USAFRICOM and the only military-to-military contact thus far. The total cost of support in FY2012 was $309,000.
- Republic of the Congo (ROC): In response to the ammunition storage point explosion in Brazzaville, ROC, on March 4, 2012, USAFRICOM (in coordination with U.S. Naval Forces Africa [USNAVAF]) provided training in September 2012. This train-the-trainer mission was the first of several planned with the Forces Armees Congolaises (ROC Armed Forces or FAC) and national mine action staff to build capacity in EOD, ERW and battle area clearance operations, stockpile management, and medical first-responder techniques. The total cost of support in FY2012 was $267,000.
- Tanzania: In the summer of FY2011 an ammunition storage point in Dar es Salaam exploded, causing damage to the surrounding area and injuring and killing civilian personnel. Tanzania requested assistance, and USAFRICOM provided initial training in EOD/ERW operations and medical first-responder techniques. These teams consist of U.S. Navy EOD technicians, medical staff, and DTRA SA/LW Program personnel. USAFRICOM has assigned Tanzania to USNAVAF, which conducted three missions in FY2012. Total support in FY2012 was $244,000.
Besides work noted previously, DTRA provided PSSM assistance in Africa as follows:
Burundi: In June 2012, at the request of the General Staff of the Forces de Defense Nationale (National Defense Force of Burundi or FDN) and coordinated through the U.S. Embassy in Bujumbura, DTRA SA/LW personnel conducted a PSSM assessment of the arms, ammunition, and explosives (AA&E) at five sites in Burundi. The DTRA team identified excess, obsolete, and unsafe ammunition for destruction, as well as recommended physical security upgrades, to be funded by PM/WRA. The DTRA SA/LW Program has had a successful relationship with Burundi since 2006, resulting in more than 150 FDN personnel and over 40 Burundi police officials oriented to international best practices for the PSSM of SA/LW, ammunition, and explosives. Many procedural and practical PSSM improvements highlighted at previous seminars were observed in practice during the June assessment.
Burundian schoolchildren express appreciation for U.S. support to local police who help keep them safe
- Djibouti: At the request of the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti on behalf of the Forces Armees Djiboutiennes (Djiboutian Armed Forces or FAD), the DTRA SA/LW Program conducted a PSSM technical seminar in Djibouti City in January 2012. The goal of the seminar was to orient 16 military participants with stockpile management responsibilities to international PSSM best practices for SA/LW and conventional ammunition. As part of the DTRA SA/LW Program’s cooperative relationship with other national arms control agencies in the Multinational Small Arms and Ammunition Group (MSAG), a subject matter expert from the Danish Verification Agency supported the team.
Kenya: In addition, the DTRA SA/LW Program supported a USAFRICOM HMA training mission and MSAG regional PSSM seminar in Kenya in April 2012. A USAFRICOM mobile training team, in addition to a DTRA SA/LW instructor, provided instruction on ammunition stockpile management and basic ammunition identification to 38 members of the Kenyan and Egyptian militaries. In June 2012, at the request of the German Arms Control Agency, the DTRA SA/LW Program along with PSSM experts from Austria, Canada, Germany, and Sweden conducted a PSSM executive seminar at HPSS in Kenya. The goal of the seminar was to orient 26 participants from seven African nations to international best practices for PSSM in order to reduce proliferation by improving the security, safety, and management of stockpiles of arms, ammunition, and explosives. The DTRA SA/LW Program and approximately 10 other national arms control units have a long history of collaborating and supporting mutual SA/LW efforts through MSAG. This was the first opportunity for the DTRA SA/LW Program to support a German-led effort.
Members of the Kenyan and Egyptian militaries receive instruction on basic ammunition identification from a USAFRICOM mobile training team and a DTRA SA/LW instructor.
- Sierra Leone: At the request of the U.S. Defense Liaison Office in Freetown, Sierra Leone, the DTRA SA/LW Program conducted a PSSM assessment of weapon and ammunition storage sites controlled by the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF). The assessment objective was to compare and verify the ammunition and weapons slated for destruction against the list provided to the DTRA SA/LW team and to assess the condition of the weapons, ammunition, and storage facilities. These sites included two depot-level sites in Freetown and seven unit-level sites near Freetown and in eastern Sierra Leone. Overall, the storage sites did not meet international standards for physical security measures; however, the RSLAF units have met the standards as much as possible with available resources, including fabricating items to meet these standards.
Finally, the Leahy War Victims Fund (LWVF) of the U.S. Agency for International Development granted $2.8 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross Special Fund for the Disabled to provide prosthetics and other rehabilitation services to 23 centers in 17 sub-Saharan African countries. Also in FY2012, LWVF provided $500,000 to support the strengthening of rehabilitation services in Rwanda.