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» World Economic Forum
Thailand’s hidden legacy of war
Publication Date : 01-06-2012
As the World Economic Forum hosts a summit in Bangkok focusing on Asean issues, civilian safety and security are often overlooked issues at such meetings.
Landmines are not just prevalent in Thailand’s neighbouring countries, but also in Thailand itself, as a result of spill-over from insurgence and civil wars in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Malaysia.
Currently, large scale international clearance efforts are now taking place. Although a vast majority of the mines in Thai soil were laid by foreign forces, Thailand alone bears the full responsibility for clearing them.
Currently, more than 500 square kilometres of land along Thailand’s borders are still suspected of containing mines.
Mine accidents occur every year, harming innocent civilian people in these border regions. Landmines prevent access to land, water and vital resources and impede much-needed development in many rural areas.
There are many advantages in the use of rats for landmine detection. Rats are capable of sniffing out extremely small traces of explosives and can search large sections of land faster than most other technologies.
Experience from our Mozambique Programme shows that when combined with efficient Survey Techniques, Apopos unique mine action approach offers cost-efficiency and effectiveness beyond what most other organisations can provide.
Based on its international success, Apopo has been asked to survey mine-suspected areas in contaminated provinces along Thailand’s border with Cambodia. This will contribute considerably towards increasing the efficiency of survey, clearance and land release activities and aid Thailand’s efforts to comply with the 2018 mine ban treaty deadline.
Apopo is an international NGO working with the Thailand Mine Action Centre to solve the landmine problem. With its head office in Belgium, Apopo also has a large training centre in Tanzania, where it has developed methods of training African giant pouched rats to detect landmines.
Bart Weetjens, Schwab Foundation and World Economic Social Entrepreneur, Founder & Director of APOPO (HeroRat)