MLI is launching the first Mine Detection Dog program in Angola this month! Unfortunately, Angola is one of the most landmine contaminated countries in the world, the result of a 30 year civil war between the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA), that ended in 2002. The remnants of the nearly three decades-long war scar the land and the soil is saturated with mines and UXO (unexploded ordnance). Indeed, it is estimated that there are millions of landmines hidden in the soil of Angola, affecting all 18 provinces in the country. These mines inhibit access to railways, roads, airports, powerlines, and land for housing and fiber optic cables, thus hindering economic reconstruction and the resettlement of refugees. Landmines kill and maim hundreds of Angolan civilians every year, many of them children, and there are an estimated 86,000 mine survivors struggling to survive in Angola today.
Over the past year, with support from the Government of Angola, the US Department of Defense and private, caring donors, MLI began a multi-phased program to provide Angola with 6 lifesaving dogs. These dogs will arrive in Angola on November 10, 2011 and will begin the process of bonding and training with local Angolan handlers.
MLI expects the dogs to complete their training over the next few months and they will begin "sniffing out" landmines in the Spring of 2012. Remarkably, MDDs are able to locate landmines up to 30 times more quickly than human deminers and each of these life-saving dogs will clear approximately 4 million square meters of land during its working life of 6-8 years!