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A day of demining in Casamance

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The sun has just come up. After the team has loaded up the equipment, Aziz, Handicap International's Head of Demining Operations, motivates the troops and reminds them of the day's objective: demining the village of Diagnon, located around fifty kilometres out of Ziguinchor. 

© J-J. Bernard / Handicap International

Arriving on site at 8 am, Aziz and Charles, his right-hand man, assess the site: the configuration of the zone to be cleared of mines and the surrounding area, any anticipated difficulties, the choice of operating procedure, etc.


At the same time the deminers unload and inspect the equipment.


Just like every morning, Charles holds an operational briefing and reminds everyone of the safety instructions.


Each deminer takes their equipment and gets ready.


Everyone is very focused before swinging into action.


It is 9 am. The deminers are ready to get started.


Before any intervention, the vegetation needs to be cleared from the zones to be demined.


Jonathan, the dog handler, spends time with his two mine detection dogs. He checks that they are in good condition before taking them out into the zone to be demined.


Today, Katja is going to work with her handler in 45 minute phases with breaks in-between. 


In situations where the dogs cannot work, the deminer uses a metal detector. They sometimes wear extremely light air cushion soles for improved safety.


Aziz, the Head of Demining Operations, goes out to greet the village authorities. It is important to maintain good relations with them and keep them informed about Handicap International's operations.


It is 3 pm and the team needs to get back before the army checkpoints are set up for the night in this unstable region. They head home with the satisfaction of a job well done - the team can be extremely proud of themselves!



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Completion of demining operations
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Completion of demining operations

HI has completed its demining operations in the Tshopo, Ituri, Bas-Uele and Haut-Uele provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), launched in January 2016. Over a two-year period, HI and its local partner, AFRILAM (Africa for Anti-Mine Action) cleared 34,520 m2 of land of mines, the equivalent of 5 football pitches, benefiting the 5,600 inhabitants in the region.

Mine action in 2018
© Blaise Kormann/L’illustré/HI
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Mine action in 2018

Developments in mine clearance largely reflect recent changes in response environments. Thomas Hugonnier, head of Mine Action at HI, explains how this currently affects our mine clearance operations.

Deir Ezzor: The fighting may be over but the danger is still present
© E.Fourt/HI
Explosive weapons

Deir Ezzor: The fighting may be over but the danger is still present

On 3 November 2017, the armed forces took back control of the town of Deir Ezzor in Syria.[1] The fighting inside and surrounding the city lasted several months, creating numerous civilian victims and displacing over 300,000 people. Handicap International (HI) is gravely concerned about the situation in the field. 


[1] Syrian armed forces, Syrian Democratic Forces (FDS) and coalition.