U.S. State department grants $8.3 Million to HALO trust for UXO removal program


THE humanitarian organization, HALO Trust, has recommenced surveying and mapping Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) deposits in the Solomon Islands, marking a significant step towards addressing a longstanding and dangerous issue in the region.

This initiative, which began in April and May of this year, is funded by an $8.3 million grant from the U.S. State Department.

This move follows the termination of Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA)’s contract in the wake of a tragic incident in September 2020, during which two NPA officers lost their lives while attempting to disarm a UXO at their residence in Tasahe, West Honiara.

Minister of Police, National Security, and Correctional Services, Anthony Veke, confirmed that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed last month, officially launching the program.

“HALO Trust has taken over from NPA and is now collaborating with the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Unit to address the UXO issue.

“Survey and mapping efforts have already covered several priority areas, including Honiara (including parts of Bloody Ridge), Tulagi, Tenaru, Barana village, and are currently underway in the Bokona region,” he said.

Minister Veke said the data collected during these surveys will prove invaluable in helping RSIPF EOD prioritize their operations effectively.

Furthermore, Minister Veke emphasized that not only will this benefit RSIPF EOD, but it also opens the door to engagement with other donor partners for Render Safe operations in these priority areas.

In a significant development, the U.S. Department of Defense has offered its assistance in the UXO campaign.

Cabinet approval has already been granted for this partnership, which will include technical survey programs and capacity-building training.

A Diplomatic Note has been sent to the U.S. Department of Defense, and a response is expected soon.

Minister Veke stated that formalities and agreements for this collaboration are in progress.

He emphasized the importance of working within an established framework or Memorandum of Understanding.

The UXO issue in the Solomon Islands traces back to World War II battles in 1942, leaving behind a dangerous legacy.

Many people have suffered injuries or lost their lives due to these remnants.

The government’s commitment, along with support from international organizations and donor partners, aims to make the region safer and promote development.

Discover more from Theislandsun

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading