Over eight months into the global coronavirus pandemic, millions of people still face an unprecedented threat that is shifting daily. Among the most vulnerable to this crisis are the communities that also face the deadly legacy of conflict and the daily threat of landmines and unexploded bombs. These communities have fragile healthcare systems and poverty-related health issues.
Throughout these challenging times, MAG's priorities have been threefold: the health and safety of our staff and the communities in which we work; our commitment to continue delivering our work wherever possible; and our wider responsibility to help limit the spread of the virus.
To ensure our lifesaving work didn't grind to a halt because of COVID-19, MAG introduced strict new health and safety measures in the countries where we could safely operate and have innovated our approach in the countries where we can't.
Physical distancing, face masks, temperature checks, and increased access to in-field sanitation stations are just some of the measures which have allowed MAG to resume its operations in all but two of the 26 countries where we operate.
Thanks to these measures, the enormous effort and commitment of our staff, and the continued support of our donors, MAG has been able to continue our lifesaving work freeing communities from fear.
In July, our work had all but caught up to the levels we had achieved in prior years, despite the challenges of the pandemic.
In July 2019, MAG teams across the world made safe over 1,977 acres of land, removed 12,695 landmines, unexploded bombs and other explosive threats, and delivered 5,746 mine risk education classes to children and their families.
In July 2020, MAG made safe over 1,483 acres of land, found and destroyed 11,846 explosive threats, and delivered 1,092 mine risk education classes.
MAG impact in July 2020
Land cleared & safely returned to communities
Landmines & explosives destroyed
Risk education classes delivered
We want to take this moment to celebrate and thank our teams around the world that have done so much to serve so many.
However, we are far from "business as usual." Delivering face-to-face mine risk education is one of the areas of our work that is proving most difficult to continue on a large scale. The threat of COVID-19 makes it too dangerous to hold large community or school gatherings. Instead, our community liaison teams have worked with great agility to adopt new ways to deliver vital and lifesaving risk education messages.
In Iraq, for example, where our mine clearance teams are currently unable to operate due to COVID-19 restrictions, MAG staff have taken to the phones.
MAG aims to call each of the 500 families that are believed to have returned to the Sinjar region of Iraq during the pandemic. In the first week of the project, MAG community liaison staff spoke to more than 100 families, helping them recognize, report, and avoid the dangerous explosive threats in their community.
Building on a successful pilot launched in October of last year, MAG has also invested in new digital initiatives to help expand our remote risk education project across the world. Working with social media advertising tools, MAG will digitally deliver tailored and targeted mine risk education messages to more than 10 million people in 5 countries.
The threat of coronavirus will diminish; but when it does, the threat of landmines and unexploded ordnance will still be there for more than 60 million people around the world. And the presence of landmines will only exacerbate the socioeconomic damage which COVID-19 threatens.
MAG is driven by innovation and we will not stop our work until the threat from landmines and unexploded bombs is eliminated. We thank our supporters – host governments, donors, partners, and the general public – and our staff for continuing to stand with us until the world is landmine-free.