Darfur calls for landmine teams (SUDAN)
Copyright (c) 2008 Western Daily Press. All Rights Reserved. West explosives experts in mission to help rid Sudan of deadly hazards Apioneering West firm that uses specially bred dogs alongside hi-tech radar systems to detect and clear mines has won an important contract in Sudan.
UNITED KINGDOM, 28 February 2008 (Western Daily Press)--
MineTech International, a world leader in mine clearing, will be paid 10 million (£5m) by the UN for work in Darfur and other war zones.
The Gloucestershire firm was one of the first contracted for clearance work in Iraq in 2003 but its expertise has been exported all over the world.
Clear-up operations in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Macedonia and Kosovo as well as South America have taken the firm a long way from its head office at Mitcheldean in the Forest of Dean.
MineTech develops its own mine clearance machines at an engineering base at Devizes in Wiltshire.
An armour-plated bulldozer scoops up mines at the same time as clearing soil and roots from battlefields. The heavyweight vehicle is robust enough to withstand the impact of any explosions set off during removal.
An alternative for harder terrain such as roads is a lighter vehicle which carries metal detectors or ground penetrating radar to locate mines.
Both machines will be used on Sudan's harsh desert terrain.
MineTech will also be taking teams of detection dogs that find mines by recognising the smell of explosives.
It breeds and trains its dogs at a centre in Pretoria in South Africa.
Manual clearance teams, which use handheld mine detectors, will also make the journey north to Sudan from bases in South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The Sudan project is part of a 20m (£10m) international humanitarian initiative to clear the explosive remnants of 22 years of conflict.
The firm, which is part of Exploration Logistics Group also based in Mitcheldean, will be sending 115 specialist personnel to work on four projects in the country.
Mike Jaques, managing director at Exploration Logistics, said: "Mines pose a significant threat to the people of Sudan causing death and injury.
"Fear of landmines also hampers travel and their continued presence is a major barrier to regeneration and development.
"This is a vital initiative and we are pleased that MineTech is at the very heart of it."
Two of the projects are in Darfur, the strife-torn province in the west of Sudan where conflict still rages. As well as clearing mines and explosives there, MineTech will run education projects to reduce casualties among local people.
Unexploded shells are a particular problem in Darfur because their bright colours and unusual shapes can have a fatal attraction to children.
MineTech teams will also be sent to Juba in the far south and Kasala in the east, where landmines were planted during the civil war from 1983 to 2005.
Von: Copyright (c) 2008 Western Daily Press. All Rights Reserved.