Home
What is Mines Awareness Trust?
What is the scale of the problem?
What does MAT do?
Where does MAT work?
How is MAT funded?
Contact us
The latest news
Saving lives for You
Saving lives for Schools
Saving lives for Companies
   
 
 

 

KOSOVO

Following the success of the Kosovo education project, MAT moved on to landmine and unexploded ordnance clearance.  From June 2003 MAT has been operating a highly successful clearance and community liaison project.  The project team is comprised wholly of local staff and employs a landmine survivor as the community liaison officer.  This project has been considered the premier mine action project in Kosovo by the United Nations.  Between April and June 2005 the team had cleared over 200,000 square metres of land (more than 60 football pitches) and handed this land back to pastoral and agricultural communities.  This has removed the need for aid in these communities and enabled trade to commence again.  During this time a total of 275 dangerous items, from landmines to cluster bombs, have been removed from the ground.

MAT has begun a programme in Rwanda to assist the National De-mining Office and the Rwandan Defence Force to clear the country of landmines covering one million square metres of the country's land.  This contamination remains from the genocide of 1994.

MAT has provided three technical advisors in Rwanda to support the re-vitalised national de-mining programme.  Earlier this year 140 Rwandan Defence Force Soldiers were trained in manual de-mining techniques at the International Mine Action Training Centre.  At the end of this successful course, the soldiers were equipped with the very latest de-mining tools and were then returned to their country.  MAT sent three very experienced technical advisors who are now in the field starting the task of surveying the 16 sites known to contain landmines and other explosive items in Rwanda.

The MAT Rwanda project is currently supported by funding from the US Department of State with other donors showing interest.  At the present time MAT is the only NGO involved with the National De-mining Office in Rwanda and as such we are delighted to be able to support the Rwandans in their aim to have a landmine 'impact free' Rwanda by 2009.

To learn more about the work of the Kosovo team why not purchase a copy of our DVD, Kosovo: the Hidden Enemy. Four trucks and one car were imported into the Kasese district, Western Uganda, to support landmine survivors and their communities.The transport this project provides enables these communities to sell surplus produce at markets previously inaccessible, and thus obtain a better price for it.The revenue from the vehicles is also used to develop mine risk education and survivor assistance activities in the district.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following the success of the Needs Assessment conducted in the Kasese district during 2004, MAT has been asked to survey a further two districts in the north. The districts of Lira and Soroti, a combined area slightly larger than Cyprus, are being assessed during 2006. The aim is to collect information about the extent of landmine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) contamination and how this affects the mainly rural general population. In line with MAT policy, national staff will be employed from local ethnic groups. The assessment can then direct clearance and mine risk education efforts.

 

MAT is supervising 20 Ugandan People's Defence Force (UPDF) soldiers as they begin clearing mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) in their own country.  The soldiers have been trained at the International Mine Action Training Centre (IMATC) in Nairobi, Kenya.  This is a very innovative project as it is the first time an African Military will be helping rid their own country of the problems of landmines and UXO.  In the post African Military's have been trained as deminers but have always deployed to other countries.  MAT will lead the soldiers and ensure all clearance operations are carried out to International Humanitarian standards.

    
 Instructing the UPDF soldiers  Early morning, getting ready to deploy
   
   
 Ready to start work  Continuing refresher training
   

The MAT 'Dirk-Ridge' dog centre, housed within the International Mine Action Training Centre (IMATC), was formally opened on 17th February 2006 during a ceremony to mark the first anniversary of the Centre.  The dog centre is a purpose built facility housing an initial six dogs - Atti, Aska, Bronco, Lucky, Fly and West.  It is hoped by both MAT and our experienced dog training partner, Securatec, that more dogs will make the journey to continue their training at the centre.

The dog centre is East Africa's first dedicated mine detection dog training facility and it is very much hoped the dogs will be able to support mine action projects in numerous African countries, thereby helping many communities rebuild their lives after conflict.

MAT is extremely grateful to both the IMATC and Securatec for their ongoing commitment and support.

The official opening of the Dirk-Ridge Centre

 

The MAT team with Lucky, an Australian Shepherd / Border Collie cross The first MAT project involved emergency mine risk education and data gathering in the west of Kosovo. The casualty rate of 20-30 per month in this region prior to MAT going operational was successfully reduced to near zero, where it stayed. The project was handed over to national staff who formed the local NGO ‘ARKA’, which became a UNICEF implementing partner. Mine risk education projects targeted at Internally Displaced People (IDP’s) and returnees. MAT trained mine risk education trainers and community volunteers, through which community presentations, puppet shows, games, dramas, song, child-to-child and teacher-to-child education was enabled and carried out. One shocking feature of this innovative MAT project was the location and removal of 3,000 live fused bombs from a school with 1,200 small children. All assets were handed over to the Eritrean De-mining Authority (EDA) and MAT trained trainers are working with the EDA to this day. MAT worked to build the mine risk education and data gathering capacity of the Community Trust Fund (CTF), a national NGO. Twenty mine risk educators were trained and deployed to educate returning refugees and IDP’s to six districts of central and northern Sri Lanka. The project was handed over to the national NGO who are still active as the largest mine risk education and data gathering NGO in Sri Lanka.To date, MAT is the only international NGO that has handed over to a local partner, a fact that has not gone unnoticed by the UN and the Sri Lankan Government. CTF have now been guaranteed funding until at least 2008.

MAT were involved in a Country Assessment to assist the UN with developing a Mine Action plan for Sudan.Assets were withdrawn due to frustrations caused by NGO registration and corruption. We have been asked on numerous occasions to return but will only consider if we are to be part of a team approach.

Emergency mine risk education was undertaken as an implementing partner for the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the United Nations High Commission for Refugee’s (UNHCR). MAT worked in the area of the Democratic Republic of Congo bordering Angola. Communities of Angolan refugees were educated prior to their forced repatriation to northern Angola and UN staff were trained on how to educate and collect data from the returnees to Angola. MAT returned to DRC to monitor previously trained MAT trainers in the IDP camps and conduct refresher training.A member of the MAT International staff was seconded to UNICEF to develop Country Strategy and production of educational materials. A Mine Action Needs Assessment was conducted in Kasese district of western Uganda. Ten mine risk education trainers and survey assistants were trained by MAT and deployed to 17 of the 21 sub-counties. Interviews were conducted with the communities to ascertain the level of landmine / unexploded ordnance contamination, the effect on the communities and the social economic effects caused. The Mine Action Needs Assessment has had acclaim from the UN and the Ugandan Government, which has led to calls for a further 6 districts in the north of the country being identified for future needs assessments by MAT. The needs assessment identified an acute need for emergency mine risk education in 11 of the 17 sub-counties, however, we are unfortunately still short of the necessary funds for implementation.

The tsunami washed away landmines and markings in previously recorded mined coastal areas. There were instances where landmines were washed into previously known safe areas. An assessment visit in January 2005 led MAT to decide the development of a mine detection dog capacity would be an effective way to assist the north of Sri Lanka. The dog centre was developed in partnership with Securatec, experts in the training of these very special dogs. Mine detection dogs provide a valuable asset in the location and reduction in size of areas suspected of being contaminated. A fully trained, operational dog with a handler can reduce a dangerous area the size of a football pitch in one day. It would take 3 men at least a week to reduce the same area. Once trained and accredited MAT will deploy the dogs in support of mature manual mine clearance teams.

Unfortunately MAT and Securatec have had to pull the mine detection dogs out of Sri Lanka.  The move was forced by a lack of cooperation from the Sri Lankan Government and the deteriorating security situation in the north of the country.  The dogs have moved 3,000 miles to a dedicated centre within the International Mine Action Training Centre (IMATC) in Nairobi, Kenya.

Back