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Mechem Partners With Turkey To Combat LandminesYou are here: Media Centre / News & Press
6 June 2019

Mechem, part of the Denel Group is achieving remarkable results in Turkey with the clearance of landmines in one of the world’s most dangerous border areas.

Mechem has already found and destroyed some 45 000 landmines and helped to make vast tracts of land safe for human activities since the start of its demining operations on the eastern border of Turkey in mid-2016.

Warren Faro the acting General Manager of Mechem says “the successful operations are confirming Mechem’s reputation as one of the leading demining companies in the world.” Clearance is done manually by teams trained by Mechem with the support of mine detecting dogs.

A total of 8 006 mines were found and destroyed within the first five months of operations in 2016. Unsurpassed results were achieved by the Mechem teams, mine fields were successfully handed over and the areas were released after clearance.

Turkey undertook an initiative sponsored by the European Union (EU) and the Turkish Government to destroy all its landmines by 2022, in terms of the Ottawa Convention to prohibit the use and stock piling of these deadly weapons.

Landmines were used along the Turkish borders to prevent illegal migration and cross-border crime. The non-discriminate nature of landmines poses significant safety concerns to military personnel, civilians and demining staff – with continued reports of injuries and deaths.

The Turkey demining contract is the first of its kind for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Turkish Mine Action Centre (TURMAC) transitioning from military - to humanitarian demining.

Deployment into Turkey was a steep learning curve for all parties involved; despite the fact that, in the past Mechem has achieved major successes in post-conflict countries such as Mozambique, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

None of the parties were, distracted by the various challenges encountered, they actually approached the task with determination and a shared vision to free the country of landmines. This resulted in the 2017 operational season where some 16 658 land mines were destroyed within five and a half months in operations. During that time 15 cleared mine fields were handed over despite the loss of two operational months due to extreme weather conditions.

In the 2018 season, the team exceeded all expectations with 25 mine fields successfully handed over to the respective authorities, after which clearance tasks concluded about 12 630 mines. The 2019 season commenced in April 2019 so far a total of 4 802 mines has been found and destroyed.

Achievements are summarised in the table below:

Year Mines Destroyed Square Meters Cleared No of Minefields Cleared Operational Months No of Teams
2016 9 008 122 405 Mine Fields Suspended 5 14
2017 16 658 517 418 15 5 18
2018 12 630 486 636 25 5,5 11
2019 4 802 84 047 Minefields contracted 10 1,5 6
Total 41 700 1 162 776 39 16,5 -

The clearance of the mine fields presents the opportunity to repurpose the land for other activities, such as agriculture.

*Please follow the link below to view the work done by MECHEM on international borders:

YOUTUBE - Danger Mines: A short story from the Eastern Borders of Turkey at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4ZZ7FYUySI

Ends

For further information, contact:

Pam Malinda

Cell: +27 (0) 82 686 2198
Tel: +27 (0) 12 671 2662
email: pamm@denel.co.za



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