Minefield Breaching After the conflict is over

10/07/2017 by Manish Khandelwal


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From Afghanistan to Cambodia, and from Angola to Colombia, landmines pose a great threat to civilian lives even years after the war is over. It is surprising to know that Egypt is still struggling to clear out the landmines that date back to the North African campaigns of World War II.

Characteristically, landmines are very durable and can pose a safety hazard even after decades of being laid down. Throughout history, landmines have been used rampantly by the militaries and the warring factions. For them, a landmine is a decisive weapon, usage of which can vary from eliminating a soldier to a tank. By planting mines across a vast expanse of land, militaries can fortify their positions and thwart any enemy advancement. However, when the conflict gets over, these landmines remain neatly entrenched under the battlegrounds as hidden killers to pose as fatal threats to innocuous civilians as soon as they are stepped upon.

According to the Landmine Monitor 2016 report, an average of 18 people is killed or injured every day by landmines or unexploded explosive ordnance. There are several countries across geographies that have seriously landmine-infested border areas around battle zones. This has become a serious problem with far-reaching and long-term economic and civilian safety implications. Thus, for the humanitarian purpose, it is essential to clear the landmines and other unexploded explosive ordnance from the conflict zones – and deminers play a crucial role in achieving this objective.

The job of demining is not a glamorous gig. The soldiers or the trained professionals in the detection and removal of antipersonnel landmines have to wear ballistic armored suits that can weigh anything up to 30 kgs, depending on the job at hand. From the sweltering heat of deserts to humid rainforests, the deminers operate in extremely hostile climate and terrain conditions. The deminers cautiously move ahead step by step while probing the ground around with magnetic detectors or manual excavation tools to detect any metallic debris which could be a potential landmine. Each alarm is then carefully checked by the deminers to distinguish the landmines from the metallic debris. Once a landmine is identified then the deminers either excavate it from the ground to diffuse it or it is remotely blown up. The only protection that the deminers have from a potential accidental landmine explosion while detecting or diffusing it is in the form of a demining suit.

A demining suit is specially designed for Army specialists and trained professionals who search for buried landmines and other unexploded ordnance. The suit is designed to provide protection against fragments and projectiles from possible accidental detonation of anti-personnel landmines. For maximum protection, the suit envelops the wearer from head to foot, but it weighs him down and also limits his limb movements while kneeling to detect and diffuse a landmine.

Considering the deminers are enveloped with a heavy suit while operating in hot temperatures, it is necessary to understand that for the wearer of a demining suit the temperatures would be significantly higher. This results in profuse sweating that makes the demining suit uncomfortable to wear and hinders the performance of the deminer. A small lapse in concentration of the deminer can trigger the accidental detonation of the landmine. Hence, it is necessary that the demining suit is comfortable to wear for a deminer.

MKU is a leading manufacturer of ballistic armour protection and surveillance solutions and offers MDS range of demining suits which have been innovatively designed to be lightweight, comfortable and stress-free to the wearer. The MDS demining suit and its aprons are created with world-class composite materials so that it is lightweight and gives optimum comfort to the wearer even in hot and humid conditions. The body and apron armour of the demining suit provide ballistic protection against fragments traveling at a speed of 500 m/s in accordance with NATO STANAG 2920 standards.

The MDS demining suit is easy to wear and take off with detachable components giving deminers the flexibility and mobility that enables them to bend knees without compromising on protection. In the eventuality of an explosion, the outer collar of the demining suits has been designed in such a manner to vent the blast upwards away from the face of the personnel conducting operations. The most important part to provide protection from landmine explosion is to the foot, if deminer steps on a landmine accidentally. The boots of the MDS demining suits have been specifically designed to withstand an explosive force of an average mine.

By providing deminers with comfortable demining suits that enhance their performance while clearing the landmines contaminated fields, the objective of humanitarian demining can be achieved to restore peace and security at the community level. Post conflicts, when the land is free from landmines it can be safely used for farming and infrastructure rebuilding leading to the faster economic development of the conflict-torn region.


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