The Lingering Threat of UXO and Land Mines: Congo and Tigray

Land mines remain a pervasive menace in conflict-affected regions, haunting communities long after the guns fall silent.

Land mines remain a pervasive menace in conflict-affected regions, haunting communities long after the guns fall silent. This article delves into the challenges posed by land mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Tigray, shedding light on the efforts to mitigate these dangers.

Tigray’s Battle Against Unexploded Ordnance (UXO):

In the wake of the genocidal war on Tigray, the region is now grappling with the threat of unexploded ordnance (UXO). Colonel Gebremichael Hagos, head of engineering at Tigray’s Peace and Security Office, highlights the pervasive risks posed by UXO scattered across residential areas, farmlands, and public spaces. The danger extends from small arms ammunition to aircraft bombs, endangering returning displaced populations.

Efforts to address the UXO threat in Tigray are hindered by limited resources and capacity. Despite prioritizing the clearance of schools before the resumption of classes, comprehensive demining efforts are hampered by financial constraints and a lack of specialized equipment. Colonel Gebremichael emphasizes the need for international assistance and collaboration to effectively tackle the UXO menace.

Congo’s Struggle with Land Mines:

The DRC has grappled with the devastating legacy of land mines for decades. The country’s vast mineral wealth and turbulent history of conflict have made it a hotspot for landmine contamination. Land mines continue to claim lives and limbs, particularly in the eastern provinces where armed groups operate.

The presence of land mines poses a multifaceted challenge to the Congolese people. They not only result in casualties but also inhibit socio-economic development by rendering vast swathes of land unusable for agriculture or infrastructure projects. Moreover, the indiscriminate nature of land mines means that civilians, including children, are often the victims.

Clearing these deadly remnants of war is a daunting task that requires significant resources and expertise. While efforts have been made to demine affected areas, progress has been slow and uneven due to logistical challenges, funding constraints, and the sheer scale of the problem. 

A Story of Two Countries:

Comparing the situations in Congo and Tigray underscores the common challenges faced by conflict-affected communities grappling with land mines and UXO. Both regions are confronted with the grim reality of lives lost and livelihoods disrupted by these silent killers.

However, while the scale and intensity of the conflicts differ, the underlying obstacles to demining efforts remain strikingly similar. Inadequate funding, logistical hurdles, and the need for specialized expertise plague demining operations in both Congo and Tigray.

Conclusion:

The persistence of land mines and UXO in Congo and Tigray serves as a sobering reminder of the enduring impact of conflict on civilian populations. Efforts to clear these deadly remnants of war are imperative not only for saving lives but also for enabling communities to rebuild and thrive.

International support and collaboration are essential in addressing the complex challenges posed by land mines and UXO. By investing in demining efforts and supporting affected communities, the international community can help pave the way for a safer and more prosperous future for the people of Congo, Tigray, and other war-affected regions worldwide.

Batseba Seifu
Batseba Seifu
Batseba holds a Masters of Public Administration from New York University and a BA in Law and Justice with short term trainings in International Humanitarian Law; Displacement, Conflict, and Protection; and Operational Research for Humanitarians. She has more than a decade of experience in public service from leading the Black Students Union at North Seattle College to designing and implementing e-learning programs for Peace and Security in Africa to her role as a Country Manager at an Irish social enterprise. Focused on the plight of Tigray, she's dedicated to advocacy, research, and policy influence, bridging the gap between awareness and action.