The historic MAG-FARDC team prepares a demonstration demolition of unexploded ordnance.
The official graduation of the first MAG-trained Multi-Task Team composed of members of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) took place on 11 May.
This team has been piloted as part of a project funded by the Belgian Government for ‘Survey and Clearance Operations in Kasai’.
The event in Mbuji Mayi, Kasai Oriental Province was attended by a delegation from Kinshasa including the Commendant Corps du Genie of the FARDC, the National Focal Point for Mine Action, the Press Attache of the Belgian Embassy and the Quality Assurance Officer for the United Nations Mine Action Coordination Centre (UNMACC).
Also in attendance was the Minister of Interior and Security of Kasai Oriental, the representative of the Commandant of the 5th Military Region of Kasai and other FARDC personnel, representatives of the Provincial Inspector of the National Police of Congo, the National Information Service and other local authorities.
“Training personnel from the FARDC and giving them the opportunity to build on their theoretical knowledge, through deployments in the field with MAG technical staff, will contribute to creating a sustainable demining capacity that will benefit the people of Congo long after the team have returned to their FARDC units."
– Neil Arnold, Technical Operations Manager, MAG DRC.
Speeches from the participants highlighted the advantages of cooperation between all partners to build the capacity of the FARDC and the long term benefits to the DRC.
The graduation ceremony was followed by a demonstration of Battle Area Clearance methods by the team, a demolition and a Mine Risk Education (MRE) session, which was delivered by MAG’s local partner in Kasai, ECC MERU.
Though MAG has worked with local partners throughout the DRC to deliver MRE and to carry out surveys, the graduating team is the first composed of members selected from FARDC personnel who have been trained in demining.
The team has already been deployed to carry out surveys in the province and will shortly be deployed to remove dangerous items from conflict-affected communities.
According to the representative of the National Focal Point for Mine Action, this is the first project in cooperation with a non-governmental organisation which has directly supported capacity building in this way.
For MAG, reinforcing the national mine action capacity is vital to ensuring the lasting impact of our work.
The graduating team with representatives from MAG, the Belgian Embassy, National Focal Point and FARDC.
“Training personnel from the FARDC and giving them the opportunity to build on their theoretical knowledge, through deployments in the field with MAG technical staff, will contribute to creating a sustainable demining capacity that will benefit the people of Congo long after the team have returned to their FARDC units," said Neil Arnold, MAG DRC’s Technical Operations Manager.
"Building on the success of this pilot project, this model will now be replicated in other provinces."
This project has also greatly strengthened the relationship between MAG, the FARDC and the National Focal Point, paving the way for further collaboration to develop projects that will concretely contribute to the realisation of the national Humanitarian Mine Action strategy for the DRC.
The National Focal Point for Mine Action representative presents a diploma to one of the team members.
[Photos: MAG DRC]
MAG has been present in the province of Kasai Oriental since 2008 carrying out a range of activities, including rapid response and removal of explosive items from dangerous areas, as well as surveying and MRE.
Currently, MAG has two Multi-Task Teams and one Community Liaison Team which are funded the Belgian Government and is working in partnership with national partner ECC MERU.
The objective of the Survey and Clearance Operations in Kasai Oriental project is to accurately define the level of contamination in six territories while reducing the impact of unexploded ordnance (UXO) through spot tasks, MRE and increased MRE capacity of the national partner.
To date, the project has seen:
• 115 square meters of cleared land
• 20 completed spot tasks
• 10 items of UXO destroyed
• 5 territories covered by General Mine Action Assessment/Survey
• 5 FARDC demining personnel trained and successfully graduated
• 218 MRE sessions, given to 9,209 beneficiaries
• 4 community focal points trained
MAG would like to thank the Belgian Government for its ongoing support of this project.
18 May 2011