Report September 2014 – December 2014
New demining project in Kuando Kubango
After previous funding from the EU ended, the demining task in Kuando Kubango was suspended in 2012. Since then MgM focused on demining in Malanje. Then, during August 2014 MgM received notification that the organisation had been allocated the Lote 5 contract (South-east Kuando Kubango Province) from the EU. Preparations were immediately made to employ teams for the Manual and Mechanical Demining Teams. They were then deployed in mid-September to bases at Jamba and Mucusso, vacated in 2012. The teams had to make quick preparations to enable MgM to receive a visit from the EU Ambassador, along with eight other Ambassadors from European Union countries. MgM’s Technical Director, Hans Georg Krüßen, met the delegation, to update them on MgM’s work in the Province, and Angola as a whole.
The Ambassadorial Delegation arrived by air in Jamba on the evening of the 16th of September. The delegation, totalling 12 persons, also included the press attaché from the EU. With no formal accommodation available in Jamba, the delegation was given a real bush experience with eating around a campfire and sleeping in tents. During the 17th the delegation were able to visit some of the areas previously demined by MgM, as well as suspected hazardous areas where MgM will start demining operations.
Refresher training and preparation
After the delegation had left Jamba, a refresher training of the dog team and the Manual team from the MgM’s Operations Base at Xangongo in Kunene Province had to be carried out. MgM is very strict regarding re-training. After any break in operations the team does a refresher course, to make sure they are following procedures correctly, before returning to the live minefield. The mechanics and drivers spent this time working on the two armoured Graders, preparing them for Operation starting at Likua, to demine a road to Jamba.
Restart of Demining operations
After the period of re-training, demining operations were re-started on the 6th of October in Bumbo, 12 kilometres north of Jamba. By the end of October 18 anti-personnel mines had been removed there, as well as 5,613 items of Explosive Ordnance. The anti-personnel mines laid amongst the items of explosive ordnance, spread over an area of around 2.5 Ha. have safely been removed. MgM is now waiting for an Explosive License to be issued in Luanda so that sufficient explosives can be purchased to carry out a demolition of the stockpiled ammunition.
Manual Demining Team
The Manual Demining Team moved their operations to another Suspected Hazardous Area on the north-eastern side of Jamba. There had been reports of cattle being injured by mines in at 1o de Maio. Three “Claymore” type directional anti-personnel mines were found, along with one R2M2 blast anti-personnel mine, these showed that the mines had been laid in a line, making it easier to roll up this minefield.
Two more splash marks, from mine explosions, showed where two cows were injured, along with one more splash mark indicated where an Elephant stood on an anti-personnel mine were also located. This task is now around 75% complete, and will be concluded shortly after the Demining Teams return from their annual break.
The Mechanical Team, based in Mucusso, took time to prepare the two armoured graders for operations. Once one grader was made operational, the Mechanical and Dog Teams deployed to Likua. The Teams started the demining of the road from Likua towards the north-west corner of Jamba runway, on the 20th of October. By the end of the October the teams had managed to demine 6.4 kms of road, to a minimum width of 8 metres. No explosive remnants of war have been encountered yet. One of the armoured graders, used to re-open the old road so the dogs can check for any residual explosive vapour, ran over and exploded an anti-personnel mine. This was before the Dogs could be employed to find the mine had it been pushed into the windrows. The windrows, soil pushed to the sides of the roads when operating the grader, also shows the limit of the road demining operations.
Both Teams departed for their annual leave that includes the last two weeks of December and first two weeks of January. Demining will re-start in the middle of January 2015.
Main aim of the demining operation in Kuando Kubango is to help re-open the National Parks to tourism and re-settlement. Few people had actually been into this area since peace returned to Angola. All roads were closed, and the only access to towns like Jamba, was along heavy sand tracks through quite dense forests, teeming with wildlife. After initial surveys, MgM started demining operations in this area at the beginning of 2011 until the demining task in Kuando Kubango was suspended in 2012 after funding from the EU ended,
In September 2014, MgM returned to continue demining operations in the Luiana Partial Reserve and Mucusso Game Park. Over the next year, MgM has been allocated all the minefields along the River Kuando, remaining minefields around Jamba, minefields around the town of Likua and all those remaining along the River Kubango (that makes the Angolan-Namibian border) for demining. The Provincial Authorities have also requested that MgM demine a road through the bush from Jamba to Likua, a town 160 km north.
There is still a lot of work to do, to prepare the areas for the development of eco-tourism. Soon though you will be able to enter the KAZA Trans-Frontier Conservation Area, and see wild animals in their own habitat. Angola’s National Parks are well guarded by dedicated park rangers, and very little (if any) poaching occurs.