Killings, kidnappings highlight Somalia’s dangers
Friday, July 05, 2013
THE deadly assault by Islamists in Mogadishu last month, killing
three Denel Mechem staff members, has highlighted the dangers of the
United Nations (UN) humanitarian programme, says the company’s CEO,
Two South Africans and a Somali citizen serving in
the UN compound died during the attack on June 20 threatening the
security gains in that country that had allowed a slow trickle of
foreign aid workers and diplomats to return to the beleaguered city.
The attack happened hardly a month after the kidnapping of its 12 demining staff members in Senegal in May.
UN and Senegalese government are still battling to secure the freedom
of nine employees who were taken hostage. Early last month the rebel
group agreed to release three women.
"The tragedy of having our
staff kidnapped or killed indicates some of the extremely dangerous
situations that our dedicated personnel face in the fields.
is besides the fact that they are already out there to work with very
unstable antipersonnel land mines possibly hidden in the ground for more
than 15 years," he said.
Mr Burger said children were more vulnerable to land mines because they liked to explore fields and to play.
humbled by the dedication, sacrifices and loyalty of our personnel
despite the harsh conditions in which they operate — some parts of
Africa are very hot." He said it was part of policy to send a small
specialised team to a host country and then hire locals and extensively
train them in various related skills, including dog handling and
Mr Burger said on Thursday that Mechem had been actively
involved in demining services as the only African company to be
accredited with the UN for more than a decade.
The firm employs
experienced and highly skilled workers and also uses trained dogs to
carry out the projects in countries such as the Democratic Republic of
Congo, Mozambique, Angola, South Sudan, Libya, Benin and the Western
It is estimated that more than 110-million
active mines are still scattered in 78 countries. Buried land mines
remain active for more than 50 years.
The UN peacekeeping
operations launched a programme for Mine Action Services that entailed
finding and destroying land mines, assisting victims and educating
people to remain safe in land-mine affected areas.
The removal of land mines has cleared swathes of land, in particular for communities dependent on farming for a living.
year, Mechem recorded the highest sales in its history, surpassing
R300m. Despite difficulties this year it targeted sales in excess of
R360m. Its dog unit recently started training and deploying dogs and
handlers in various game parks to assist in the fight against rhino
poachers. It also participates in drug detection at the country’s ports
While Mechem’s main business is demining, the company is
still selling one of its most respected Casspir NG 2000 vehicles for
detonating antipersonnel land mines around the world. This year Denel
signed a contract on behalf of Mechem to supply 45 Casspirs to the