Setting the future strategy for Mine Action Programmes

The event was hosted and coordinated by the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) and the UN Inter-Agency Coordination Group on Mine Action to analyse the evolution of, and future risks posed by, explosive devices and to set the GICHD's new mission and strategy for 2015-2018.

A significant point addressed at the meeting was the challenges faced by mine action teams in Afghanistan, Columbia and Nepal in the wake of conflicts in those countries.

Richard Battrick, MAST's Director of Training and Ordnance Management, said:

The key to success is to gain a fuller understanding of the emerging Improvised Explosive Device (IED) threat on land and at sea. To successfully neutralise explosive threats, high levels of operator expertise are required along with access to sensitive technical data.”

NATO, who remains the lead authority for dealing with IEDs in the West, and the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), are being encouraged to share this technical data. Modern IEDs may have sophisticated mechanisms which are sensitive to interference and as such are extremely dangerous to mine action operators and the civilians who live in the affected areas. Ultimately, sharing information will do much to enable mine operators to destroy these weapons and save many lives.

Another relevant outcome of the meeting included the ratification of the new underwater International Mine Action Standard (IMAS), which is aimed at countries that have legacy marine issues of Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) such as Somalia, Iraq and Libya.

Battrick said:

It may sound obvious, but in the maritime environment the really tricky bit is finding the IED in the first place. Underwater search and locate techniques, requires unique skill sets, which include the operation of Remote Operated Vehicles (ROVs) and in some cases specially trained divers.

Projects of this nature will require careful planning, risk assessment and mitigation in line with the processes incorporated in IMAS, including technical underwater survey, target identification, removal and/or destruction.

The development of an underwater capability is one of MAST's areas of expertise and along with Explosive Ordnance Disposal training is something that we have a record of success in delivering.

MAST has attended the Mine Action National Programme for the last five years and is also a founding member of the GICHD Expert Focus Group for the development of the first underwater IMAS.

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