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Map - Mineclearance

History of minelaying
Both Georgian and Abkhazian forces used landmines extensively during the war of 1992-93. Mines were used in varying degrees between the May 1994 cease-fire and the late 1990s by individuals and small groups, primarily in criminal related activities.

The problem


The landmines laid during the war were concentrated along well defined lines of conflict and key terrain. The Gumista and Inguri rivers, the Gali Canal, the Kodori Valley and the main road were all heavily mined areas of tactical importance. Post conflict these mined areas denied agricultural activities, light industry and safe transit to the population of Abkhazia. The HALO Trust conducted an extensive landmine survey of Abkhazia between 1999 and 2000 where 18,366,000m² was deemed as requiring clearance. A further 2,000,000m² has been added to this total from ongoing survey operations conducted between 2001 and 2007.

The solution


As at November 2007, 11,500,000m² has been cleared and 9,000,000m² has been verified as being safe (primarily through mechanical rolling operations). During clearance operations over 16,500 landmines and items of unexploded ordnance have been cleared.

Between 1998 and 2007 HALO ran a fully integrated mineclearance programme using armoured mechanical assets such as Volvo Front Loaders, Tracked Excavators and Rock Crushers to support hundreds of manual deminers in their clearance of minefields.

This programme was enhanced over the last three years when the US Department of State funded the acceleration of the clearance programme where longer hours were worked by more deminers, supported by more mechanical assets. This committed and focused donor input has allowed clearance timeframes to shrink by three  years.

In order to ensure all necessary clearance has been conducted, HALO has been conducting an impact survey over the last three years in conjunction with Abkhazia’s 118 Village Administrations and Regional Authorities. As at November 2007, 101 (86%) Village Administrations have officially recorded they are satisfied no further clearance is required in their areas of responsibility.

Requirement for continued clearance


HALO will complete clearance of all remaining unrestricted minefields in Abkhazia towards the end of 2008. Restricted areas in which HALO does not have permission to work are expected to contain minefields. These are in military zones clustered around the Kodori Valley/ Svanetia / Georgia boundary. These are mountainous remote areas which the civilian population is unable to access.

To date, HALO has cleared 174 minefields; 34 remain that require clearance in 2008. Explosive Ordnance Disposal will also continue in 2008 where the presence of UXO in or around a village prevents the administration from reaching impact free status.

When the Mine Impact Free Declaration is made in Abkhazia it does not mean mine free. It is expected that individual mines and UXO will occasionally be found after the current cycle of mineclearance operations has concluded. To this end, HALO is committed to running a small sustainable local capacity for a number of years after Abkhazia is declared impact free to deal with the occasional Explosive Ordnance Disposal call out or the clearance of ground where the individual mines have been found.