Demining is chronically underfunded, and it is becoming increasingly difficult as the use of improvised explosives rise. These were the findings of two key articles in The Guardian this week that catalogued new challenges in the ongoing demining project in Angola, and the semi-industrial production of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
It’s the 30th anniversary this week of the Battle of Cuito Cunavale in Angola, the largest conventional battle in Africa since WWII. The location remains one of the most landmine-contaminated spots in the world, and a steep decline in international mine action funding to Angola has seriously jeopardized the country’s commitment to achieving mine-free status by 2025. According to recent estimates, at the current levels of funding Angola will not become mine-free until 2046. Find out more here.
Mine-related casualties have risen sharply in recent years, largely as the result of a few specific conflicts. The wars in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan have added complexity to the ongoing effort to ban landmines by transforming the production of IEDs from a cottage industry into a significant business. Islamic State has become notorious for churning out improvised mines that contain far larger amounts of explosives than conventional mines, and require sophisticated training to disarm. The Halo Trust is going to start working to clear the 15 km long minefield around Fallujah, Iraq this summer, which is seeded with explosives from Islamic State factories. Find out more here.