NEWS ROUNDUP March 2015

2015 March

march 31, 2015
“Two of my friends are lying there, dead.”


It started as just another day of boys’ play. “I was with my friends at a quarry that is used as a shooting range; it was seven of us. We’ve played there many times before,” said Maksim* somberly, lying in a hospital bed in his native Donetsk city, Ukraine.
“We spotted a cluster bomb that was just lying around. Two of my friends picked it up and started taking photos with it. The rest of us stepped back, because we were scared. Then my friends threw the bomb into a hole in the ground.”
What happened next is vivid in Maksim’s memory, and it will stay with him for the rest of his life.
The rest of the story is told by UNICEF.

March 30, 2015
Boonton woman looking for MIAs, unexploded bombs in Laos


U.S. Army Spc. Laura Gutbrod of Boonton is on a 35-day mission to southern Laos, part of a 20-person team looking for unexploded ordinance and any evidence of MIAs from the Vietnam War.
Her Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) recovery team is going over the same terrain U.S. forces bombed or traversed 50 years ago.
“Even finding one piece of tiny bone means something,” Gutbrod said in a telephone interview with the Daily Record. More on the story (plus wildly inaccurate ideas on mountain heights in Laos) can be read at The Daily Record of Parsippany, NJ.

March 24, 2015
Four Young Boys Injured by UXO

Four primary school boys aged 10 to 13 were injured, two seriously, after playing with unexploded ordnance in Siem Reap, Chi Kraeng district police chief Touch Sakol said yesterday.
The accident occurred on Tuesday, about 150 metres from Pongro primary school, where the boys are students. During a class break, they wandered away from the school perimeter and found the device, which they began to hit with sticks, explained Sakol, adding, “They didn’t know that it was unexploded ordnance.” More on this tragic Cambodian story over at the Phnom Penh Post.

March 23, 2015
UXO Survey Workshop: Call for Abstracts


The Hydrographic Society UK (THS UK) is to organise a one-day seminar and accompanying table-top exhibition focusing on Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) Surveys on 19 June 2015.
Presenters may discuss case studies and genuine UXO survey operations, hazard identification and reduction, equipment and sensor technology, survey methodologies, data processing, modelling, depth of burial algorithms and the special challenges associated with ground-truthing, discrimination, classification and UXO clearance techniques. Have something interesting to say about that? Check out the link at Hydro International.

March 20, 2015
Blown Away

Explosions blasted mud in the air as soldiers conducted detonation of unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Kosovo.
Soldiers with Kosovo Force 19 Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams, Kosovo Security Force (KSF) Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams, and a Kosovo Police (KP) Improvised Explosive Device (IED) defeat teams, participate in the disposal of more than 200 pounds of recovered explosive hazards at the Kosovo Police demolition range in Mt. Golesh, Kosovo, March 18. Read more about the US Military doing clearance work in places other than Laos over at DVIDS.

March 19, 2015
Job Opening: UXO Technician II Ft. Irwin, CA

We don’t usually get to make job posts, but there is an opening in California for a bomb clearance expert. Have a gander.

March 17, 2015
Mines Action Canada Welcomes Canada’s Ratification of Cluster Bomb Ban Despite Lingering Concerns about Legislation

Canada has finally ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions and totally banned these inhumane weapons. After signing the Convention on Cluster Munitions in December 2008, Canada ratified the Convention today and will be fully bound by the provisions of the Convention on September 1, 2015. As a full state party, Canada will join 89 other states in a total ban on cluster munitions due to the unacceptable humanitarian harm they cause. The Convention bans the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions as well as assistance with any of those acts.
Read more here about the debated clause that allows Canada to still fight alongside cluster-munition-using countries like the USA.

March 16, 2015
Laser-imaging drone to hunt out unexploded bombs in war-torn nations

We first noted this company and its claims a few months back, but they have since made a new pitch, this time at SXSW. There are so many things that make this unlikely to work in a place like Laos (where they say they will test it), but, as my Oma would say, “If they say it and it’s true, I guess you can believe it.” Check out laser drones here.

March 10, 2015
ANAMA neutralizes 195 UXOs and mines in February

179 UXOs, 3 anti-tank mines and 12 anti-personnel mines were detected and neutralized, the Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) told APA.
487 specialists and 119 assistants, 6 mine clearing vehicles and 36 mine detection dogs were involved in the operations. There is a little bit more over at APA.

March 9, 2015
The Lone Buffalo Cleared Unexploded Bombs And Boosted Needy Kids

Karen and I were happy to get a story about this great guy – and a character in Eternal Harvest – into this story on NPR’s website. Go read about the legacy of Manophet, one of the most remarkable people we have met in our travels about Laos.

March 5, 2015
‘Heroic’ giant rats sniff out landmines in Tanzania

he pre-dawn silence at the foot of the Uluguru mountains is disturbed only by the cries of drowsy birds, the whisper of boots through grass and an intermittent clicking sound that is irresistible to 60 pairs of tiny, almost translucent, ears.
When the sun finally rises over the blue peaks to flood the fields below, it illuminates one of the more unlikely scenes of human-animal cooperation. More on the heroic bomb rats of Tanzania from The Guardian.
Watched over by men and women clutching bananas and the small clickers used to train puppies, dozens of African giant pouched rats shuttle across taped-off alleyways trying to catch the lingering scent of TNT from some of the 1,500 deactivated landmines that have been sown in the red earth.

March 4, 2015
2,723 mines, UXOs neutralized last year in Azerbaijan’s war territories, liberated lands

In 2014, Azerbaijan cleared of landmines a total area of 334 265 77 square meters in the districts of Fuzuli, Aghjabedi, Terter, Khojavand, Aghdam, Tovuz, Gedebey, Goranboy, Gazakh, Goygol and Aghstafa in operations carried out to clear off and neutralize unexploded ordinances (UXO) in the country’s war territories and areas liberated from invasion, the Azerbaijani government’s 2014 annual report said.
You can read a little bit more and find links at APA.

March 5, 2015
After Decades after war, Vietnam and the US battle a legacy of bombs

NOTE – A third story on the US giving aid for UXO removal in Vietnam, this time by Reuters.
Red skull-and-crossbones markers dot the horizon in a barren patch of land in Vietnam where missteps could be fatal.
The signs warn of landmines and bombs, the legacy of a war with the United States that claims casualties even today, four decades after hostilities ceased in 1975.
Unexploded ordnance (UXO) has since killed 42,000 people and wounded 62,000 in Vietnam, according to official data. Three in every 10 casualties were children. The rest of the story is at The Economic Times of India.

March 3, 2015
US to provide $8 million for UXO removal in central Vietnam

NOTE – This is the same topic as in the Xinhua story below, though with rather different figures.
This year the U.S. government will grant US$8 million for clearing unexploded ordnance (UXO) left over in the central Vietnamese province of Quang Tri during the war before 1975, a senior American official has said. Rose Gottemoeller, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security for the U.S. State Department, revealed the grant during her working visit to the province on Monday.
At a meeting with leaders of the provincial administration, the under secretary expressed her delight at the outcomes of the cooperation between the U.S. and Vietnam in general and the province in particular in dealing with war consequences. Click here to read the story as interpreted by Tuoi Tre News in Vietnam.

March 2, 2015
US official visits ’17 parallel north’ province, promising 10 million for UXO

Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security of the United States Rose Gottemoeller on Monday paid a visit to Vietnam’s central Quang Tri province where the “17th parallel north” divided Vietnam into two zones during 1954-1975 war time to observe US-funded efforts to survey and clear unexploded ordnance (UXO) of war.
Quang Tri, some 480 km south of capital Hanoi, has been the first locality in the country implementing a pilot program of international cooperation on humanitarian demining allowed by Vietnamese government, according to state-run radio Voice of Vietnam (VOV). During war time, Quang Tri was among the most-hit localities by bombs. Click here to read more of the story from Xinhua.

March 2, 2015
IN DEPTH: UXO — the hidden danger for offshore wind

The waters off Northern Europe are littered with millions of tonnes of live, unexploded ordnance (UXO) — a legacy of two world wars and decades of government sea-dumping that continued until the 1980s, explains Simon Cooke, chief executive of UXO risk management consultancy 6 Alpha Associates.
“[Dumping ordnance] was not only irresponsible and short-termist, it’s now proving exceptionally expensive to deal with,” says the former British Army bomb disposal officer, who served in Afghanistan and Kosovo. “And after years of storm events and conventional sea movement, these things drift, so the munitions don’t stay where you think they are.” Learn more about the lightly reported issue in the North Sea at Recharge News.

NEWS ROUNDUP April 2014

April2014News

April 29, 2014
UK-based 6 Alpha Associates to do clearance work in Gernam North Sea

“We’re regularly reminded, during the course of offshore wind construction, of the sheer size and scale of the UXO challenge,” said 6 Alpha managing director Simon Cooke. More at ReNews.biz.

April 22, 2014
Unexploded wartime bomb found in Nauru detention centre

An unexploded wartime bomb has been found in the section of the offshore processing centre on Nauru that detains children, pregnant women and families, raising serious questions about whether the site is safe to hold asylum seekers.
Internal emails from Nauru, obtained exclusively by Guardian Australia, reveal that after heavy rainfall last week an unexploded artillery shell was found next to the “recreation tent”, which serves as a primary school for asylum seeker children. The Guardian Australia has the full story here.

April 21, 2014
Two more maimed by UXO in North Darfur

Two North Darfur youngsters were critically injured on Monday after a grenade they found at the roadside detonated. Idris Nil Salaheldin (20) had his hand blown off, and suffered severe injuries to his neck, while Kamal Mokhtar (21) was seriously wounded throughout his body and his hand was cut off.
This is the second incident involving unexploded ordnance (UXO) in just over a week, and the fourth in Darfur in a month. Read the rest at Radio Dabanga.

April 18, 2014
Officials late to act on bomb found near Vietnamese school

Curious children spent days gathered around a 1.2 meter bomb, estimated to weigh hundreds of kilograms, in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province after officials unearthed and abandoned it.
The bomb remained exposed to the elements on Thursday afternoon as authorities in the province awaited further instructions from their superiors. Read more and see photos at Thanh Nien News.

April 18, 2014
UXO injuries, deaths on the rise in Cambodia

Forty people were injured or killed by landmines and other unexploded ordnance (UXO) in the first two months of 2014, a figure nearly twice as high as that recorded in the same period last year, a recent report from the Cambodian Mine Action Centre shows. You can read the full story at The Phnom Penh Post.

April 15, 2014
Plain of Jars Project kicks off a fundraiser to support Lao children

Photographer Jon Witsell has launched a campaign to raise $10,000 for the Lone Buffalo Foundation near the Plain of Jars. See the online fundraising site here and the project site here.

April 13, 2014
Unexploded ordnance kills three children in Darfur’s East Jebel Marra

Three children, as well as several cattle, were killed when a grenade – a suspected remnant of the almost daily Sudanese aerial bombardments of the area – exploded on Sunday in West Chazan Tenjur in Darfur’s East of Jebel Marra. There is a large military base in the area.
One of the relatives of the dead told Radio Dabanga that the bomb killed Zainab Jaqoob Adam (8), Aaron Haj Issa (11), and Tayeb Adam Yahya (14), who were herding livestock. You can read the rest at Radio Dabanga.

April 12, 2014
Australia to help Vietnam overcome UXO consequences

Vietnamese Deputy Defense Minister Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh has received pledges from Australian officials that Australia will support Vietnam to overcome the consequences of unexploded ordnance (UXO) left over in Vietnam in wartime.
The pledges were made in the meetings between Vinh and his Australian hosts during his visit to Australia on April 7-12. The rest of the story is at Tuoi Tre News.

April 10, 2014
Hero Rat NGO battles landmine threat legacy of Vietnam War

The NGO APOPO that uses rats to sniff out explosives in landmines and unexploded bombs in former war zones, says it will be working with partners in Vietnam and Lao PDR to coordinate and monitor a new programme of clearance activities.
Landmines and unexploded bombs remain a problem in large areas of Vietnam and Lao PDR, posing threats to civilians and preventing land-use. Get your demining rat fix at Xperedon.com.

April 9, 2014
589 UXOs and 31 mines disarmed in Azerbaijan last month

Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) told APA that 589 UXOs, 29 antitank mines and 2 antipersonnel mines were found and disarmed during the operations.
One mine/UXO accident was recorded in March. Read more about it at APA News. More here.

April 5, 2014
Two dead from leftover ordnance in Sudan’s Kordofan

Two people have been killed by ordnance left behind in a Sudanese town where thousands of people are returning after rebel-government fighting last year, the United Nations said on Saturday.
They are the latest casualties from unexploded ordnance (UXO) in South Kordofan.
Almost three years of war in that state and Blue Nile, where insurgents and the army are also fighting, have displaced or severely affected more than one million people. Al Manar has the rest of the story

April 4, 2014
Sudan: Averting the risks of unexploded ordnance

While walking home on 5 July 2013, 14-year-old Kharsha from Zalingei, Central Darfur, picked up an object resembling a small pineapple. Arriving home, she handed it to her four-year-old brother Zakaria. Their mother, Hawaya, was preparing breakfast outside their home when she realized that her son was playing with a dangerous object. Despite her warning, he continued to fiddle with the device, which started emitting a sound. Hawaya quickly alerted other children in the area to move away, but the object exploded, injuring the entire family and leading to the death of her son two days later.
Hawaya was among several residents in Zalingei who had received risk-education training from UNAMID’s Ordnance Disposal Office (ODO). Unfortunately, while she recognized the object in young Zakaria’s hands as a threat, she was not able to intervene quickly enough to save his life. Read the rest of the story at AllAfrica.com.

April 4, 2014
When the ground isn’t safe – Playing football in the shadow of cluster bombs

Playing football in Sweden is different from playing in Laos. Not only is Sweden on the other side of the world and has it got lots of lush flat grass to play on; in Sweden Mini did not have to fear kicking the ball off the football pitch into a cluster bomb contaminated area.
Laos is the country most heavily affected by cluster munitions in the world. Between 1964 and 1973 the US dropped at least 270 million cluster bomblets. Of those, it is thought that 80 million failed to explode as they fell on the ground. The Cluster Munition Coalition has the rest of the story.

April 4, 2014
Somali women lead the way in marking this year’s International Day of Mine Awareness

This year’s International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action has been spearheaded by Somali women who joined together in an effort to raise awareness on mines and other Explosive Remnants of War (ERW).
After decades of civil war, Somalia has been riddled with mines and unexploded ordnance that threaten the lives of young children and limit access to basic services and economic opportunities for much of the population. As a result, explosive contamination represents a one of the most serious impediments to the stability, security and development of Somalia. See the rest of the story at AllAfrica.com.

April 3, 2014
US provides Cambodia with underwater demining equipment

The United States on Thursday handed over underwater demining equipment to the Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC)’s Underwater Demining Unit in northern Kampong Chhnang province, said a press statement from the US Embassy.
US Ambassador William E. Todd delivered the equipment, including inflatable boats, air compressors, lift bags, and other diving equipment to CMAC’s Director General Heng Ratana.
Read more from the news mavens at Xinhua.

April 3, 2014
Laos marks International Day of Mines Awareness

The Lao National Regulatory Authority for Unexploded Ordnance/Mine Action Sector (UXO-NRA) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) held a joint press conference to mark the International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, Thursday.
Speaking at a press conference here in capital Vientiane, Minister to the Government Office and Chairman of the UXO-NRA Bounheuang Douangphachanh and UN Resident Coordinator Minh Pham reaffirmed their strong commitment to the eradication of mines and other remnants of war. See the rest of the story over on Xinhua.

April 3, 2014
Asian landmines: A deadly trap 40 years on

There’s a young man today living in a village close to the Vietnamese border in Laos. He has lost his right eye and has shrapnel lodged in his head, which causes him pain and fever. His family can only afford to buy paracetamol to help ease his pain.
Ped was just 11 when a cluster bomb accident claimed the lives of three of his siblings, and ruined his life as well. His family was working together in the rice fields when his 13-year-old brother Oat struck a bomb with his shovel, the explosion killing him instantly along with his sister Mai, 15, and eight-year-old brother Pui. Ped was knocked unconscious but survived. See the full story with video at The Age.