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US launches $1M project to begin UXO clearing process in Solomon Islands

Updated: Dec 25, 2022


An EOD technician plants M112 demolition charges on unexploded ordnance in southwest Asia in this Nov. 17, 2018 file photo by Army Staff Sgt. Ray Boyington.

By Pacific Island Times News Staff


On May 10, 2021, a World War II shell exploded in the Solomon Islands, killing one person and critically injuring two others.


The tragedy occurred during a fundraiser at Lengakiki in Honiara, where the Solomon Islands Police EOD team later discovered that a 105mm high explosive U.S. projectile left over from the war has been buried.


In September 2020, two employees of the Norwegian People's Aid were killed when unexploded bombs went off while clearing war debris in Honiara.


A WWII battleground in the South Pacific, the Solomon Islands is littered with thousands of unexploded ordnance which continue to pose threats nearly 80 years after the war.


The United States today announced a project to assist the Solomon Islands in surveying war landmarks for unexploded ordnance or UXO.


According to the Department of State, Washington has provided $1 million to the HALO Trust to launch the UXO project on Jan. 1, 2023.


“This project will address UXO priorities and enhance explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) capacity with the Ministry of National Police and the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force,” according to a statement from the Department of State.


The HALO Trust is a non-political and non-religious registered British charity and American non-profit organization which removes debris left behind by war, in particular land mines. With over 10,000 staff worldwide, HALO has operations in 28 countries.

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“HALO will advance shared United States-Solomon Islands priorities. With funding from the United States, HALO will locate and mark World War II legacy UXO while providing essential training and capacity building to the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force EOD unit.


The Office of the Spokesperson said the project is part of President Biden’s announcement at the U.S.-Pacific Island Country Summit, where UXO priorities were one of nine U.S. commitments to implement the Declaration on U.S.-Pacific Partnership


“The United States is a Pacific nation—geographically, economically, historically, and culturally—and remains invested in supporting a prosperous Pacific,” the department said.


Washington said it has provided the Solomon Islands more than $6.8 million since 2011 to establish a national capacity with the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force to identify and destroy explosive remnants of war.


This included training 13 engineers who have conducted more than 1,200 explosive ordnance callouts and destroyed more than 29,746 items of UXO.

The Office of the Spokesperson said the U.S. uses existing data and historical records and conducts “search activities” to update the national UXO database.


The database will be the basis of “future explosive ordnance risk education and explosive hazard responses to UXO contamination by the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force EOD unit.”


The U.S. said the funding will also provide technical advice while assisting the Ministry of National Police to establish a UXO coordination office.


“The United States, through its Conventional Weapons Destruction program, has funded work in the Pacific since 2009. Since 1993, the United States has invested more than $4.7 billion for the safe clearance of landmines and explosive weapons of war as well as the securing and safe disposal of excess small arms and light weapons and munitions in more than 100 countries and territories,” the department said.



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