In Afghanistan, Angola and Libya, digging out the deadly remnants of war takes nerves of steel and increasingly sophisticated mapping technology.
Mine removal is dangerous and painstaking: Before the introduction of advanced technological support, the work was mostly manual. Teams of humanitarian deminers combed the landscape with metal detectors and ground-penetrating radar equipment, then carefully excavated around buried explosives. But these efforts have paid dramatic benefits for affected communities. When HALO program manager Farid Homayoun first visited Khwaja Ghar in 2002 to assess how to make it safe for the return of displaced residents, he found villages like Bahar Law mostly deserted. “There were very few people there,” says Homayoun.
Now, years after the area was cleared, “you will not recognize it. There are hundreds of homes, they have tarmac roads, mobile communications. Lots of people are growing rice there. It’s become the bread basket of the country.”