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Fatima Thaqi returned home to Kosovo with her husband and two sons after the war had finished in 1999 to find their farmland full of landmines. The family lost two cows to mine accidents -- and it reduced their income so drastically that they had to apply for aid -- but they were still lucky. More 30 percent of the landmine injuries suffered by people in Kosovo are children below the age of 14 while young adults are another 41 percent of injuries, according to statistics collected by UNICEF in 1998.
HALO cleared all the mines from the Thaqi farm, creating new hope for a peaceful future. Today Fatima Thaqi's family sells surplus crops and does not have to worry abou the children playing in the fields.
In the past twenty-four years, HALO has cleared more than 8,700 minefields around the world, destroying more than 1.4 million landmines.
On receiving the overall award for excellence at the UK Charity Awards 2012, HALO's Director Guy Willoughby remarked: "We’ve been clearing landmines for nearly 25 years. It’s really rather sad because western Europe - France, Holland, Belgium - was cleared in six or seven years through massive effort. We’ve been trying to do the same in Angola, Mozambique, Kosovo, Cambodia…we have 8,000 staff working day in, day out on their hands and knees, with some machinery help, to clear landmines. We get to our 25th birthday next year and what we really hope is that we never get to our 50th. We must finish the job."
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Photo: Fatima Thaqi and sons, courtesy of HALO.