How Your Phone Could Save Your Life 01 October 2012, 07.45
How your phone could save your life: Army bomb disposal expert creates app to help spot landminesBy Mark Prigg A former army bomb
Landmines: Africa’s most deadly source of pollution 07 September 2012, 07.05
The legacies that African civil wars leave for future generations may hold various positive connotations in terms of liberation or ethnic group
Mineseeker and EnerVue Announce Strategic Oil & Gas Partnership 19 July 2012, 22.00
Mineseeker Operations and EnerVue World Inc. intend to jointly create implementation strategies for the development of oil and gas in landmine
Yemen: Al Qaeda Land Mines Killed 73 This Week 27 June 2012, 09.38
SANAA, Yemen — Land mines planted by al-Qaida militants before they fled key southern Yemen strongholds have killed 73 civilians over the past
How Your Phone Could Save Your Life
How your phone could save your life: Army bomb disposal expert creates app to help spot landmines
A former army bomb disposal expert who has also been blown up has devised a new smart phone app to help travellers avoid treading on mines.
Richard Stevens, 42, spent 22 years in the Royal Engineers defusing explosives in locations around the world.And now as a civilian he has developed the app that gives users tips on how to spot mines, how to avoid them and what to do if they wander into a minefield.
It pictures and lists all known mines and bombs that cause death and disability every day in many parts of the world, including Europe.
Its database is constantly updated with all new information and it is targeted at civilian travellers, those who live in areas scattered with mines and even the military. Richard is also hoping to develop an Arabic version of the app and wants to save as many lives and limbs as possible.
He says many people are unaware just how many places are littered with mines, and not just in current war-torn countries.
The robot built from household junk and a Playstation which can help sweep for underwater mines.It could be a long week... Apple fans start queuing for iPhone 5 sale next Friday (should someone tell them they can order online today?) He said that even in Britain there is a risk of being blown up by mines, some of which remain from World War Two.
Richard, from Whiteparish, Hants, works as a civilian improvised explosive devices consultant and set up the 'Landmine Awareness' app through his company CAT-UXO. He said: 'When I was in Libya another de-miner was sadly killed and it highlighted that we had no information on this mine.
'We went to great lengths to gather information about it and that is what prompted me to develop the app.'I spent 22 years as a Royal Engineer in bomb disposal and these mines are killing and maiming people all the time. The app has a database of mines from around the world and how to spot them.
The app gives users tips on how to spot mines, how to avoid them and what to do if they wander into a minefield. 'Recently I was training and observing in Afghanistan when my vehicle was hit and I came out of the top and suffered injured ribs and scraped hands.
'I was very lucky.
'There are also a few misconceptions about mines and one is that they are a danger in only war-torn countries.'But they are found throughout south east Asia, Africa and the Middle East as well as in Europe. 'There is even a mine threat in the UK from ones that were laid in the war in case of German invasion.'Another misconception is that people in third world countries don’t have smart phones and would be able to use the app, but that is not so. 'Burma is now opening up and they are still laying mines there.'And recently 28 people were killed by mines in Egypt when their bus hit a mine.
'Every day across the world 20 people are killed or injured due to landmines.'
The app is free to download initially then subsequent information costs just a few pounds.
Landmines: Africa’s most deadly source of pollution
The legacies that African civil wars leave for future generations may hold various positive connotations in terms of liberation or ethnic group struggles; however, the realities that the civil wars leave behind are increasingly disastrous. At present, Africa is the most landmine-plagued continent.
Approximately 37 million mines are embedded in 19 African countries.(2)
These anti-personnel landmines are designed to be indiscriminate weapons, which have the most devastating effects on civilians, not only when conflict is occurring, but also once conflict has subsided.(3) Moreover, it is overwhelming when comparing production, costs and distribution statistics. The simplest landmine costs from US$ 3 to manufacture, but US$ 1,000 to remove, and thousands may be distributed in a matter of minutes, but requires one day to clear 25 to 50m2.(4)
This paper shall explore the effects of landmines in conflict and post-conflict African zones, and provide an explanation of the feasibility of the suggestions offered thus far.
Status of landmine activity in Africa
The aftermath of many civil wars and other conflicts that have ended, continue to maim and kill numerous civilians annually. By 2000, it was estimated that there were approximately 44.8 billion landmines that litter African countries, most of which are concentrated in Angola with an estimated 15 million mines still active, Chad with 70,000 active mines, Egypt with 23 million, Eritrea with 1 million, Ethiopia with 500,000, Liberia with 18,000, Mozambique with 3 million active mines, Namibia with 50,000, Rwanda with 250,000, Somalia with 1 million and Sudan with 1 million active mines.(5) Therefore, it may be necessary to raise awareness and discuss the situation that the following countries are experiencing in the present decade: Angola, Egypt, Libya, Mozambique and Sudan.
The memory of the 80,000 people maimed and killed by anti-personnel weapons since 1975, has given the Angolan Government reason to pursue programmes that promote the clearance of the Angolan territory.(6) This clearance has been deeply supported by the Italian, Swedish and Japanese Governments, as well as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) that had committed to a five-year programme that pledged US$ 4.5 million to the Mine Action Capacity Development Project that ended in 2011.(7) Furthermore, the European Commission (EC) is one of the "largest donors in Angola. In 2010, the EC awarded contracts over a three-year period for US$ 26.5 million, of which US$ 21.2 million was for demining and the remaining US$ 5.3 million was for technical assistance."(8) Recently, the Japanese Government has continued its support by committing US$ 1 million to the Angolan National Institute of Demining (ANID) and the Japan Mine Action Service (JMAS).(9)
Since 2008, 870 million square metres have been cleared, of which 297,000 anti-personnel weapons, 9,508 anti-tank mines and 491,767 other unexploded ordnance devices such as artillery, mortar shells, rockets and bombs were found. The areas cleared are close to major cities such as Luanda, Menongue airport, Lobito railways and Catembula, a residential area.(10)
Although Angola still experiences occasional landmine incidents, it can be considered a general success or at least a positive step towards human security. For example, Angola is in accordance with the most landmine treaties and agreements, except for the Convention on Conventional Weapons. Furthermore, Angola "destroyed 81,045 mines between October and December 2006, in addition to 7,072 antipersonnel mines apparently destroyed in 2003" before the 2007 deadline. The only use of anti-personnel weapons is for military training. Angola has taken proactive decisions; however, much work is still needed and this is hindered by the lack of human resources and funding. (11)
Egypt and Libya
In 2010, Egypt was noted to have 22% of the world's landmines in its most fertile soil. These weapons were concentrated in the northern coast and West Desert and the Alamein region, in particular.(12) The realisation remains alarming that although Egypt acknowledges the staggering statistic, Egypt has failed to ratify or agree to the major landmine agreements because the Government had claimed that the anti-personnel mines were used to secure its borders and "that responsibility for clearance is not assigned in the treaty to those who laid the mines in the past." This prerogative is vital for Egypt, as it seems that although any specific party does not admit the use, both rebel and pro-Government forces made use of the weapons in the 2011 conflict when both sides accounted for stockpiles.(13)
Another recent conflict that gave rebel groups access to anti-personnel weapons also occurred in 2011, in Libya. Libya did not sign or ratify the major weapon treaties either, because of its security policies. Colonel Muammar Gaddafi had bolstered the weaponry in previous years; however, military supplies were raided in 2011, therefore placing various non-personnel weapons close to civilians. Although there have not been any incidents reported in previous years before the 2011 conflict and various actors have offered to monitor the situation, some stockpile amounts are still missing and pose potential threats to civilians because they were distributed in conflict zones.(14)
The dispersal of the anti-personnel weapons occurred during the Mozambican civil war, which pitted the FRELIMO Government and RENAMO opposition against one another. The Government explained that they wanted to defend their towns and provinces and vital infrastructure such as electricity lines, railway lines and airports, whereas the opposition aimed to close down roads and boarders and access to the Cahora Bassa Dam. At present, the Niassa, Cabo Delgado, Nampula and Zambezia provinces are mostly cleared by the HALO Trust and they are moving to clear the Tete, Manica and Maputo regions.(15) Mozambique has ratified and agreed to most treaties and has requested an extension to 2014, whereby Japan(16) and Norway(17) readily pledged their donations to the value of US$ 5.5 million. Mozambique feels optimistic that they can meet this 2014 deadline of demining the country; however, civilians' mounting frustration is not easily quelled because the slow and never-ending work on clearing landmines prohibits many people from acquiring an improved standard of living.(18)
Sudan is the most pressing and active example of landmines in Africa. Since signing the 2004 Ottawa Treaty that advocates a cease in production and use, rehabilitation and clean up, as well as the destruction of stockpiles, Sudan had committed itself to a general clean up by 2014. However, the impetus of the North-South Sudanese border conflict has both rebels and the pro-Sudanese Government taking irrational steps and resorting to the use of anti-personnel weapons. Tim Horner, Deputy-Director for the United Nations (UN) mine action office in Sudan, explains that this delicate situation requires immediate attention because "We've seen an increase in mine incidents and mine accidents over the past six months or so and in many areas we think there are a lot alleged cases of re-mining. We can't prove this because we haven't seen but anecdotal evidence that these are newly laid, not old mines."(19)
Although these allegations of re-mining have not been proven, it is suspected that the Ottawa Treaty was breached and that the 2014 deadline is unattainable at this point. The regions under question where new landmines have been found are the Nuba mountain region (20) and the Abyei region.(21) Thus far, recommendations have been to refer this matter to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the International Criminal Court (ICC), principally because UN peacekeeping forces from Ethiopia have been killed in the Abyei region in landmine-related incidents. Abyei has been declared a buffer zone because of the need to have a safe and intermediate zone for civilians and oil production.(22)
Unfortunately, the landmine situation is not likely to improve until the conflict is over, as conflict-ridden countries are less likely to prioritise funding. It is estimated that South Sudan needs another US$ 71 million before it can fill the funding gap.(23)
It is important to remain optimistic that the efforts taken to counter the mass landmine proliferation in Africa will multiply and improve conditions. However, one cannot help but feel that the work done thus far is undone by 1) countries that have not ratified and implemented treaties that promote the wellbeing of people in conflict, 2) countries that continue to supply such weapons, and 3) the fact that anti-personnel weapons do not have an expiry date. In many areas, people thus avoid daily activities such as farming and fetching water because of the fear of coming across a landmine. While Governments and international organisations will continue to lobby for appropriate funding, it is recommended that communities educate one another about the dangers and to remain vigilant.(24)
Written by Arina Muresan (1)
Mineseeker and EnerVue Announce Strategic Oil & Gas Partnership
EnerVue (www.enervueinc.com), a Canadian oil and gas company led by a team of experienced industry professionals, brings appropriate technical and pragmatic expertise to properly implement petroleum development strategies which meet the ongoing needs of a country and its people with regards to its oil and gas industry.
"Mineseeker is currently involved in discussions with several governments and other organisations holding oil and gas concessions in both Africa and the Middle East and we are excited about the prospect of working with EnerVue to develop sustainable oil and gas businesses in countries affected by landmines," commented Mike Kendrick, Executive Chairman of Mineseeker. "EnerVue shares our view on compassionate capitalism, and sees the opportunity to deliver economic growth for the local populations in these countries, as well as value for investors and governments alike. For Mineseeker, it offers the opportunity to create new markets in aerial surveying and share in oil and gas revenues emanating from the introductions we make to EnerVue that result in oil and gas business developed from the Partnership."
EnerVue's President, Scott Douglas, commented, "We are pleased with the successful signing of this strategic partnership and welcome Mineseeker alongside the EnerVue team. What unites us is the common interest in responsibly demining and developing land where oil and gas opportunities exist. The partnership brings together two likeminded organizations and opens doors to new markets for both of us." He added "We've completed the first phase of a significant equity investment into Mineseeker's holding company NHSH, further cementing the relationship between the two companies."
"There is significant value in the opportunities available to both companies, from this. We are excited to move forward with Mineseeker as our partner." expressed EnerVue's Vice-President, Benjamin Knopp. "Our initial investment is part of a financial transaction, which gives EnerVue the option to increase its stake in NHSH by acquiring a further $2.5m worth of shares over the next twelve months," added Knopp.
Mineseeker Chairman Mike Kendrick is due to visit Southern Africa imminently where negotiations are scheduled to discuss oil and gas concessions in Mozambique. The team has also been invited to visit Angola, an oil rich economy with a significant landmine problem.
The Governments in the region are keen to move ahead in the liberation of oil and gas concessions to enable petroleum companies to begin the process of seismological surveys.
Scott Douglas will also sit on the Mineseeker Foundation advisory board which will share in and benefit from the revenues created by the partnership.
Yemen: Al Qaeda Land Mines Killed 73 This Week
SANAA, Yemen — Land mines planted by al-Qaida militants before they fled key southern Yemen strongholds have killed 73 civilians over the past week, Yemeni officials said Tuesday.
Engineering teams have removed some 3,000 land mines around Zinjibar and Jaar, according to the governor's office in Abyan province.
Government troops captured both towns in a two-month offensive to uproot al-Qaida fighters from large swaths of land they captured during last year's political turmoil. Mines left behind killed 73 residents, the officials said.
The statement also said Jaar residents have found the bodies of 20 militants and two soldiers killed in last week's fighting.
Muqbel Shaddad, a Jaar resident, said over the phone that the bodies were scattered in bushes and around the countryside.
An Interior Ministry official said five al-Qaida militants detained for carrying out terrorist attacks escaped Tuesday from a prison in the port city of Hudayda.
He said one of the detainees was believed to be a senior al-Qaida member who was involved in plotting an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa in 2008. Two other prisoners recruited militants for the group's operations outside Yemen, and another was once detained in Syria after fighting with al-Qaida in Iraq.
The official said the prisoners tunneled their way out of the prison.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters, said the ministry has started an investigation to determine who helped them to escape.