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Monitoring danger

By 1st Lt. Kristoffer Egeberg
First published in
SFOR Informer#111, April 18, 2001

Lukavica - Patiently and with utter care, the VRS (Army of Republika Srpska) de-miner cuts vegetation away before he prods a few centimetres farther into the minefield. It is a quiet morning on a beautiful landscape. Alas, also a deadly one.
After only two weeks of work, the two VRS de-mining teams have already found four mines and an enexploded ordnance (UXO). But they know there is more, much more.
"The Mine Action Centre (MAC) in Sarajevo has a mine map for this minefield. That makes it easier to find the mines we know are here. After the clearance, officials from the MAC will go through the findings to see if the figures fit," said Italian Master EOD 3rd Warrant Officer Mauro Fogato.
He leads one of four Italian EOD teams that monitor Armed Forces in BiH de-mining in Lukavica, Hotonj, Lijesovo and Vitkovici.
"We consult and monitor. All the paperwork SFOR requires must be in order and we must make sure that the security of the teams is good. Also, if they need help, we try to provide support as far as we can," he said.
So far this day, a booby-trapped M-57 grenade is found. But this field consists mostly of PMA 2 anti-personnel mines.
"All the vegetation makes it difficult and slow. We have no mechanical means available here, so we must cut everything down by hand as we de-mine," said VRS Lt. Mile Vukjsavljevic, in charge of the de-mining.
"When we find a mine, we close down that area and continue on another. At the end of the day we destroy what we have found. We are satisfied with the job we have done so far," he said.
When the minefield is cleared, the VRS intends to reconstruct the army barracks that used to be there, 2,000 square meters of mined landscape in all.
"Our co-operation with SFOR is good. They have, in fact, helped us with all the problems we encountered so far," Vukjsavljevic said. He has two teams of de-miners working every day.
"Hopefully, we will be finished here within 30 days," he concluded.

Related links:
Engineering - Mines and De-mining
Nations of SFOR: Italy