The Somaliland Republic, a de facto sovereign state located on the east coast of Africa, is still recovering from years of civil war.
“There have been a number of conflicts that Somaliland was involved in,” Jane Strangways, program manager of Halo Trust Somaliland, told i24NEWS.
“With Ethiopia, and then a civil war, and then inter-clan violence meant layers of mine-lay.”
NGO Halo Trust is an organization dedicated to removing debris left behind by wars, particularly land mines, and operates in 27 countries.
Strangways, who worked for more than a decade for British intelligence, became the first woman to lead Halo Trust Somaliland, overseeing almost 530 employees.
Every year in Somaliland – an autonomous region claimed in 1991, unrecognized by the international community – an average of 200 landmines are found and destroyed.
An i24NEWS correspondent joined a team from Halo Trust Somaliland as they embarked on a mission to clean the Aboukha field, a mixed minefield of anti-tank and anti-personnel explosives.
“When you respect all the safety instructions, there’s no problem, so I’m not scared,” Youssef told i24NEWS, a de-miner for Halo Trust Somaliland.
“If it’s a landmine, we have the necessary protection. But, if it’s an anti-tank mine, we could all die.”
The organization relies on local staff, who are trained in mine clearing, to search for arms caches, anti-personnel mines, and explosive devices from past wars.
Halo Trust has six incumbents in the region of Somaliland, with headquarters in its capital Hargeisa, and is the region’s third-largest employer.
“We have a jural – one to clear landmines, and the second one to create employment in areas of poverty,” Strangways said.