A day demining with our team in Casamance, Senegal
The sun has just come up. After the team has loaded up the equipment, Aziz, Handicap International's Head of Demining Operations, motivates the troops and reminds them of the day's objective: demining the village of Diagnon, located around fifty kilometres out of Ziguinchor.
© J-J. Bernard / Handicap International
Arriving on site at 8 am, Aziz and Charles, his right-hand man, assess the site: the configuration of the zone to be cleared of mines and the surrounding area, any anticipated difficulties, the choice of operating procedure, etc.
At the same time the deminers unload and inspect the equipment.
Just like every morning, Charles holds an operational briefing and reminds everyone of the safety instructions.
Each deminer takes their equipment and gets ready.
Everyone is very focused before swinging into action.
It is 9 am. The deminers are ready to get started.
Before any intervention, the vegetation needs to be cleared from the zones to be demined.
Jonathan, the dog handler, spends time with his two mine detection dogs. He checks that they are in good condition before taking them out into the zone to be demined.
Today, Katja is going to work with her handler in 45 minute phases with breaks in-between.
In situations where the dogs cannot work, the deminer uses a metal detector. They sometimes wear extremely light air cushion soles for improved safety.
Aziz, the Head of Demining Operations, goes out to greet the village authorities. It is important to maintain good relations with them and keep them informed about Handicap International's operations.
It is 3 pm and the team needs to get back before the army checkpoints are set up for the night in this unstable region. They head home with the satisfaction of a job well done - the team can be extremely proud of themselves!
All photos © J-J. Bernard / Handicap International