Ripon man's role in managing deadly Isis landmine legacy

Guy Petts, first on the right, with the mine clearance team in north west Iraq standing by the 'Rebel Crusher.'
Guy Petts, first on the right, with the mine clearance team in north west Iraq standing by the 'Rebel Crusher.'

A Ripon man who travels to conflict zones around the world to help manage the deadly Isis landmine legacy, is appealing to the public for their support.

Guy Petts works for landmine clearance charity, the Mines Advisory Group (MAG), and is urging people from across Ripon and the Harrogate district to support their Home Safe Home appeal to help families affected by landmines and unexploded bombs across the Middle East.

Under the UK Aid Match scheme, donations made to the charity's appeal before July 4 will be doubled by the UK government. Matched funding will help clear 21,000m² from unexploded bombs and landmines in Lebanon, while public donations will support wider work in other conflict-affected communities.

Guy, 56, is the charity's Global Mechanical Operations Manager, who is responsible for overseeing the specialist machinery used by highly-trained teams to find and destroy the hidden killers before a child does.

Like many of MAG’s operational staff overseas, Guy previously served with the British Army, including the Royal Engineers between 1980 and 2002; with two postings with the 9 Parachute Squadron.

As the person at MAG who decides what mine removal machinery is needed where, Guy spends half the year out of the country - in the past 12 months he has worked in Angola, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, Vietnam and Iraq.

In 2018, MAG teams cleared more than 17,000 mines across Iraq and Lebanon - helping to build a safer future for almost 450,000 people.

Guy said Iraq is one of the most challenging countries for clearance due to the size and unpredictability of improvised devices (IEDs) left behind by ISIS.

He said: “Some of the IEDs we are finding are huge – the size of a 202-litre barrel. So we’ve had to evolve as we go, based on what we’re dealing with."

Deminers are the people who go in on foot to clear landmines from the affected areas, armed with hand-held metal detectors. To make their job a bit less risky, it is the machines that are sent in first to help prepare the land.

But across the Middle East, there are still thousands of landmines and unexploded bombs. MAG's Home Safe Home appeal aims to raise money to expand the organisation's work in the region.

Guy said: “I’ve travelled to conflict zones all over the world, and have seen the difference mine clearance makes to families and communities living in fear.

"Our work not only delivers the immediate benefit of not worrying about your family being killed by a landmine, but it also helps the community in the long term, as roads, schools and hospitals can be built and people can use the land again for farming.

“All public donations to MAG will be doubled by the UK government until July 4, allowing us to clear huge areas in the Middle East, meaning homes can be homes again and children can grow up in peace and safety.”

More information about how to donate can be found on the MAG charity's website.