08TBILISI2229, GEORGIA: HALO TRUST CONTINUES TO CLEAR THE LAND

WikiLeaks Link

To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.
Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol).Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #08TBILISI2229.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI2229 2008-12-02 12:31 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO3846
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2229/01 3371231
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 021231Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0487
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002229 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/25/2018 
TAGS: PARM PGOV GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: HALO TRUST CONTINUES TO CLEAR THE LAND 
 
REF: TBILISI 1592 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D) 
 
1. (C) Summary.  The HALO Trust, a British Demining/Explosive 
Remnants of War (ERW) clearance NGO conducted an emergency 
ERW survey of Georgia, and is engaged in Battle Area 
Clearance (BAC) training, clearance operations, and 
mine/Unexploded Ordinance (UXO) risk education projects in 
Abkhazia and the undisputed areas of Georgia.  Department of 
State provided funding of 4.4 million dollars for these 
on-going activities.  Other donors included the European 
Union and the Governments of the United Kingdom and Germany, 
who contributed to the clearance programs, and UNICEF, who 
contributed to risk education.  HALO is progressing well, and 
has cleared a total of 1,040 items of cluster munitions, UXO 
and abandoned ordnance (AO) in the area between Gori and 
South Ossetia to date, and over 15,000 mines, UXO and AO in 
the separatist region of Abkhazia.  While HALO expects to 
complete minefield clearance in Abkhazia, excluding the Upper 
Kodori region, by the end of 2009, HALO estimates that at 
least another six months of clearance will be required to 
remove all known ERW from the Gori-Tskhinvali corridor, and 
another two years of clearance will be required in the Upper 
Kodori. Furthermore, clearance operations in the separatist 
region of South Ossetia have yet to begin.  HALO has also 
confirmed, that cluster munitions were used in civilian areas 
by both Georgia and Russia during the August conflict. End 
Summary. 
 
OPERATIONS STATISTICS 
 
2. (U) Two BAC training courses were completed this year and 
produced a total of 156 new staff.  The majority of the staff 
are from affected villages within the former buffer zone. 
HALO is currently deploying 14 sub-surface clearance teams, 
12 surface clearance teams, and 2 survey/EOD teams.  Each 
team consists of five searchers and one team leader.  24 of 
these teams are locally recruited and four are from Gali, in 
the ethnic-Georgian majority area of the separatist region of 
Abkhazia.  In total, there are 192 operations staff based in 
Gori and 18 support staff. 
 
3. (C) As of November 22, a total of 491 cluster munitions, 
462 AO and 87 unexploded ordnance had been cleared from 
villages in the Gori-Tskhinvali corridor since early 
September.  This clearance, primarily of agricultural land, 
has allowed residents to harvest their crops safely.  Despite 
denials by the Government of Russia that cluster bombs had 
been used at all and earlier denials by the government of 
Georgia that they had used cluster munitions in civilian 
areas, HALO Trust did confirm that cluster munitions were 
found from both countries in ethnic Georgian villages in the 
Gori-Tskhinvali corridor.  Although the true targets of the 
bombs cannot be established, they are all located in the 
primary battleground between Tskhinvali and Gori.  Russian 
cluster munitions were discovered in Akhaldaba, Dzlevijvari, 
Karaleti, Karbi, Kvemo khviti, Kvemo Nikozi, Ruisi, Variani, 
and Variani Meurneoba.  Georgian cluster munitions were found 
in Brotsleti, Ditsi, Ergneti, Kvemo nikozi, Meghvreskisi, 
Pkhvenisi, Shindisi, Tirdnisi and Variani. (Note: In 
responding to similar allegations by Amnesty International, 
the Georgian government explained that it directed cluster 
munitions against military targets; Amnesty found that 
legitimate military targets were within the general vicinity 
of the cluster munitions, but still questioned the 
justifiability of their use.  According to Amnesty, the 
Russian government did not respond to queries on the topic. 
QRussian government did not respond to queries on the topic. 
End Note.) 
 
4. (U) HALO also completed an emergency ERW survey, which was 
published on October 31, 2008.  Included was a survey of the 
Gori-Tskhinvali corridor, minefields in Abkhazia from the 
1992 conflict, minefields and UXO in the Upper Kodori, and 
Soviet legacy minefields.  In the Gori-Tskhinvali zone, HALO 
identified 16 villages, of 131 visited, affected by cluster 
munitions.  They also found other UXO, primarily S-8 
air-to-surface rockets, as well as abandoned ordnance. 
Specific details and clearance required for each village 
visited can be found in the survey.  General contamination 
maps have been produced for 15 of the 16 villages 
contaminated by cluster munitions, and these have been 
included in the survey report.  The one exception is Ergneti 
on the South Ossetian border, where Georgian police 
restricted access until an Ossetian checkpoint was recently 
moved back.  These maps show the approximate extent of 
cluster contamination in each location, and will be further 
refined by survey teams revisiting the tasks and during the 
course of surface clearance.  An initial assessment of South 
Ossetia will be completed as soon as HALO is able to gain 
full access to the region. 
 
 
TBILISI 00002229  002 OF 002 
 
 
5. (U) In Abkhazia, HALO has cleared 280 minefields from the 
1992-1993 war, with 22 remaining, since they began work there 
in 1997.  This amounts to over 15,000 mines, UXO and AO 
having bee
n destroyed.  HALO expects to complete minefield 
clearance in Abkhazia by the end of 2009.  These numbers 
exclude the Upper Kodori, to which they gained access only in 
August.  13,671 items of abandoned ordnance in Upper Kodori 
have been destroyed since September.  Almost all the 
immediate threat posed by UXO and AO has been removed from 
around villages and housing.  Most of the UXO were cleared 
from damaged ammunition depots in the center of Azhara 
village using an armored Volvo loader to clear rubble for 
inspection.  The minefield survey is underway, with thirty 
minefields in Upper Kodori already surveyed.  HALO estimates 
that the area will require an additional two years of 
clearance. 
 
6. (C) A HALO Trust officer reported that that on a recent 
trip to the Upper Kodori region, he was extremely troubled to 
see recently built Georgian administrative buildings, banks 
and schools that had been vandalized by Abkhaz militia. 
However, on a happier note, he was heartened to hear that 
Abkhaz HALO demining teams were helping the remaining ethnic 
Georgians bring in their maize and potato crops after 
completing their clearance activities for the day.  The teams 
in the Upper Kodori lodge with ethnic Georgian families, 
paying them rent, which is greatly appreciated by the 
communities.  The landlady that the officer stayed with was 
so grateful for the overall help and general security 
provided by the deminers that she was in tears thanking him. 
This underscores that the project is not only a critical 
humanitarian operation, but also a key peacebuilding 
initiative. 
 
7. (U) In addition to mines and UXO from the 1992-1993 war 
and the 2008 conflict, Soviet legacy minefields continue to 
pose a threat to the population.  HALO identified three of 
these as high priority, Red Bridge border minefield, Mtskheta 
former military base, and Alinja former military base, and 
one, Akhalkalaki former military base, as medium priority. 
 
RISK EDUCATION 
 
8. (U) HALO has provided risk education training to 
schoolchildren, IDPs, NGOs, international organizations, and 
government staff.  Approximately 5,500 people received 
leaflets and on-the-spot advice during the emergency phase at 
the end of August and early September.  44,627 schoolchildren 
in Shida Kartli region have had risk-awareness lessons, 1,159 
adults in affected villages attended risk-awareness evening 
classes, and 108 residents of the Gori IDP camp have attended 
ERW awareness sessions.  In addition to those directly 
affected by the threat, HALO also provided ERW awareness 
training to 251 NGO staff working in the affected area, 300 
EU monitors, and 46 OSCE military monitors and mission staff. 
 In addition, 22 Border Police staff received training, and 
90 police in Gori District will receive training in December. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: