Mine Detection Dog Program
The 1988 to 1994 conflict with Armenia and the Soviet Union’s collapse left much of Azerbaijan littered with landmines. Even though the precise extent of contaminated land remains unknown, it is estimated that there are more than 181,870 acres (or 736 km2 ) of suspected hazardous areas throughout Azerbaijan, affecting 514,000 people. Some of the most highly contaminated regions are Fizuli and Aghstafa in southern and northwestern Azerbaijan. While the number of landmine accidents continued to decrease in 2015, mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) continue to pose a daily threat to local communities.
The Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) is responsible for overseeing all aspects of mine action activities in the country. Since 2005, MLI has donated 36 mine detection dogs (MDDs) to ANAMA. While the first donated MDDs have now been retired to live with their handlers, currently nineteen MDDs are actively working in the country. Together with their handlers, the MDDs donated by MLI to ANAMA have helped to search more than 6,100 acres of contaminated land since 2005, saving countless lives!
Through MLI’s Children Against Mines program (CHAMPS), four MDDs in Azerbaijan were sponsored by American schoolchildren. CHAMPS involves American youth in meaningful service-learning projects to sponsor MDDs and help landmines survivors around the world.
In the spring of 2008, MLI launched a survivors’ assistance program in Ganja City, in western Azerbaijan. This project helped to expand a vocational training workshop that trains and employs landmine survivors and/or their family members. MLI enabled the workshop to employ additional trainees, purchase needed equipment, and produce a business plan and advertising strategy. Vocational training courses in sewing, embroidery, and carpet weaving helped dozens of survivors to reintegrate into society and earn an income for themselves and their families.