By: Yusuf M Hasan
LAS ANOD (Somalilandsun) – Somaliland is experiencing an increase in landmine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) explosions especially in the Eastern Sool region.
In this scenario one person has lost her life while 19 others were seriously injured as a result of landline explosion in Adhi-Cadeeye (athi -Adeye) Centre of Lasanod town the capital of Sool region of Somaliland.
According to the Lasanod district police commander lieutenant Colonel Ibrahim Jama who visited the scene immediately after the disaster at noon on the 23rd July 2017, the deceased and injured were all residents of Internally Dispatched Persons -IDP camp at the center which is 35kms west of the Sool regional capital.
“I hereby confirm that one person has died while 19 others received serious injuries as a result of a mine explosion” said Lt Colonel Ibrahim adding that most of the victims were women and children.
A resident of the village who narrowly escaped the fateful event informed that 5 of the victims were from a single family and now receiving treatment at the local MCH.
The witness who did not divulge his name said that the explosion and subsequent damage to life caused created some confusion within the IDP camp that ensued with shocked people rushing to the Abdi-Cadeeye trading center proper, mostly on fear of explosions recurrence.
The large number of simultaneously injured highest so far in country is said to have occurred during a gathering of the IDP camp residents for a traditional event when a young boy unsuspectingly carrying an unexploded ordnance joined them only for the explosion to occur immediately
Last week Lasanod was the scene of another landline explosion that resulted in the death of an 11 years old boy late Mukhtar Farah Bile and just as his boss the Sool regional police chief Lt Colonel Khalif Mahmud Ali, the Lasanod District police boss appealed to the central government in Hargeisa for expedited dispatch of mine clearing agencies.
Read: Landmine Claims Another Child’s Life In Burao
During the prolonged civil war waged by SNM rebels that ensued with the withdrawal of Somaliland from Union with Somalia in 1991, force loyal to the then Dictator Mohamed Siyad Barre had laid many land mines and other ordnances in most parts of Somaliland.
Though many lives had been lost as well as physical disabilities incurred in the preceding years efforts by various agencies like Danish De-mining Group, Britain’s Halo Trust and Somaliland’s own SMAC among others have ensued with 97% reduction in most parts of the country, Sool region remains vulnerable
The Sool region vulnerability is as a result of prolonged insecurity fashioned by political differences with the central government that facilitated Non provision of much ended public services.
The region is gradually joining the national fold as a result of peaceful reconciliation between the Khatumo state of Somalia secession movement and government of Somaliland which has facilitated a return to normalcy as well gradual availability of public services thence the call by the two police chiefs for explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teamS and experts needs urgent response.
In 2011 Irinnews reported that due to the rising number of child landmine victims in Somaliland strategic interventions, including effective continuing mine-risk education and psychological rehabilitation of landmine survivors were imperative.
Currently such services in the country are provided by Hargeisa based agencies like the Somaliland Red Crescent Society and Disability Action Network that avail artificial prosthetic limbs as well as physiotherapy facilities but sadly only in the Somaliland capital.
According to the Somaliland Mine Action Centre- SMAC, landmines were laid in Somaliland over two decades, and during three different conflicts. The first conflict (1964) and the second (1977-78) were between the Somali Democratic Republic and Ethiopia over what is now Ethiopia’s Somali Region. The third conflict (1981-91) was when the Somali National Movement waged an armed struggle against the Somali National Army of the then Somali president, Mohamed Siyad Barre.
As per the UN Development Programme (UNDP), 400,000-800,000 landmines were laid in Somaliland between 1988 and 1991 alone. At least 24 types of anti-personnel mines from 10 different countries have been identified in Somaliland. At least half of the landmines laid in Somaliland are plastic.
With No records having been kept by those who laid landmines in Somaliland thence difficulties in mine clearance activities calls by Civil society organizations and the national de-mining agency for awareness-raising mine education programes, especially in schools remain just that calls,
In the meantime the resurgent ugly head of landmine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) explosions is killing and maiming unsuspecting citizens.