Clearing explosive hazards in post-conflict environments

Organisation: The HALO Trust

Location: Fallujah, Iraq

Type of grant: Core – recognition

Status: Ongoing

  • Credit: ©2018 AFAK/The HALO Trust Children walk home from school past damaged buildings in Dar'a Governorate, southern Syria.

  • Homes and streets in Fallujah are littered with IEDs and explosives. Only once they are removed can rebuilding work begin.

  • HALO employ and train local staff in Iraq, sharing knowledge learnt from our experience of urban clearance in Afghanistan and Syria.

  • Refining methods of mechanical clearance is fundamental to making cities like Fallujah safe so families can return home.


The HALO Trust will seek to assess the level and nature of explosive contamination in post-conflict urban environments, primarily in the Middle East,  and develop new clearance methods that will save lives and facilitate the safe return of refugees.


The intensity of the fighting in the Middle East since 2014 has left cities devastated, from Mosul to Aleppo to Da’raa. This has resulted in huge numbers of homes, schools, hospitals and infrastructure being contaminated with explosive hazards; landmines, booby traps, cluster munitions, and other unexploded ordnance. Reconstruction of post-conflict cities is severely limited until the extent of contamination can be assessed and cleared where required. Nor can displaced communities safely return. While the challenge presented by explosives contaminated urban environments has been widely acknowledged, there has been relatively little action to practically address the challenge.


The solution will detail the nature of the problem presented by contaminated urban environments and outline either where current clearance procedures can address the challenges or where new solutions need to be found. It will also assess where clearance solutions might already exist in other industries and sectors.

The humanitarian demining sector already uses certain assessment methods and technical approaches to urban clearance, but they have not been designed with the exact nature of the current challenge in the Middle East in mind. This is, in part, due to the fact the exact nature and scale of contamination are currently unknown.


A final report will identify where existing clearance techniques can be used or adapted to clear urban environments and what unique challenges are likely to be faced. This will be supplemented with an analysis of existing capabilities and where they may fall short. This will identify where new innovations need to be made and where there might be opportunities to fill gaps with existing technologies or processes from outside the humanitarian demining sector.


Elrha is a registered charity in England and Wales (1177110).

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