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Irish Aid has been supporting HALO Trust to clear mines in Somaliland since 1999.

Somaliland, a boy with a herd of camels passing through an area being demined by Halo

Since 2016, Ireland has provided funding of over €7.5 million to HALO Trust's demining programme in Somaliland.

Through HALO Trust, we are working with the Somaliland Mine Action Centre and the National Demining Agency on mine clearance and supporting Irish Aid funded teams of deminers made up of national staff to clear and handover mine contaminated ground and to conduct mine risk education in mine affected communities.

129,473 square meters of high priority mine contaminated ground was cleared with Irish Aid funding in 2019 of which 86% ( 111,347 m2) will be used for access to services and resources, and 14% (18,126 m2) will be used for agriculture.

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Read more about our support for mine clearance and the impact it is having on the lives of people in Somaliland.

Nimco (right) outside her house with her children and some of her neighbours, all of whom live inside a minefield. Credit: Halo Trust

Nimco lives in Qorilugud, a town of 1,800 people in the Togdheer region of the Somaliland with her husband and three children. Her family's primary source of income comes from the occasional sale of one of their flock of fifteen goats, worth a total of around $600, so access to Qurilugud's plentiful wells where they water their herd is vital for Nimco's livelihood. This was the reason the family settled in the town in 2014 following a drought. However, Nimco was unaware at the time that they built their house directly on an anti-tank minefield on the outskirts of town.

Realisation of the risk they were facing came abruptly on the 4th of November 2015 when a military truck, passing just a few metres from Nimco's house, initiated an anti-tank mine, instantly killing the driver and severely injuring all three passengers.

"I was outside my house when I heard a huge bang. Then there was a lot of smoke and dust. Pieces of the vehicle flew everywhere and bodies lay around. I was very worried about the children but God spared us."

The truck had been passing over an area where Nimco and her children walk every day but its weight had been enough to set off the mine. As the soft soil at Qorilugud shifts through the rainy season, landmines often become more sensitive or are uncovered completely. Three children were killed and two seriously injured after striking one uncovered completely.  Three children were killed and two seriously injured after striking one underground device with a stone in April 2014. Three more children died the following month trying to burn a grenade they found in the minefield; of the sixteen accident victims at Qorilugud since 2012, half were children below the age of 16. Unsurprisingly, Nimco is deeply concerned for the safety of her own children but there is nowhere else to move in the tightly packed village so she and her family have stayed put.

"I know we live on the minefield but none of us in life know when we will die. Our time will come and for the time being we trust in God."

With funding from Irish Aid, HALO Trust is responding to the threat posed by this high-priority minefield at Qorilugud. Teams are at work to clear the full area around the town's perimeter where mines were laid by the Somali National Army during the 1980s (to protect their southern logistics base, located beside the village). HALO's manual demining teams, supported by funding from Irish Aid, are painstakingly clearing each metre of suspected ground above the town in order to ensure that the depressingly predictable cycle of accidents at Qorilugud finally comes to an end.

The aftermath of the anti-tank mine accident, a stone's throw from Nimco's house. Credit: Halo Trust

Further information on HALO Trust

Further information on HALO Trust's work in Somaliland click on Somaliland in the map linked here.