As part of its efforts to strengthen the national capacities to effectively implement mine action activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina the Government of Switzerland supported the training of two mine detection dogs and their handlers at the Global Training Center of Norwegian People’s Aid for Mine Detection Dogs in Blagovac. The trained dogs are donated to the Demining Battalion of the BiH Armed Forces in order to improve the efficiency of demining operations carried out in the country.
The official handover ceremony of the two trained dogs – Hob and Jerko Hannibal – was attended by Barbara Dätwyler Scheuer, Director of Cooperation at the Swiss Embassy in BiH, MoD representative General Ivica Jerkic, Deputy Commander of the Operational Command of the BiH Armed Forces for Resources, and Darvin Lisica, the Regional Director of NPA’s Disarmament Programme for South East Europe.
“I am convinced that the two Mine Detection Dogs are a precious investment in the future and that Hob and Jerko Hannibal will help the Demining Battalion perform their important humane activities, thus contributing to free the land of mines in the fastest way possible. This will not only increase the safety of the citizens of BiH, but also improve their livelihoods and therefore contribute to the socio-economic development of the country”, stated Barbara Dätwyler Scheuer.
Since 2003 the Swiss Government is continuously supporting the Norwegian People’s Aid mine action program in BiH. During the past years an amount of 10 million KM was spent on mine action activities throughout the country. The project aims at improving the quality of life of the population in areas affected by mines, cluster munition and other explosive remnants of the war. Activities realized within the Swiss supported program allowed to release more than 4’000’000 m2 of land contaminated by mines in 33 communities. Switzerland also helped reinforcing the capacities of the NPA Global Training Centre for Mine Detection Dogs and of the Demining battalion of BiH Armed Forces by providing both training and the necessary equipment.
The use of mine detection dogs in mine action operations helps significantly speeding up the mine detection process and reducing the risks. Already November 2016, two Special Detection Dogs – Mine Detection Dogs that underwent a specific advanced training – were handed over to the Demining Battalion within the same project. They are already engaged in demining operations throughout BiH.