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KEARNEYSVILLE – An Jefferson County company has received international recognition for its work to aid in the removal of landmines from once-war-torn areas where they can persist and remain dangerous for decades, often killing or maiming farmers and other innocent civilians.
Schonstedt Instrument Co., a manufacturer of specialized metal detectors that can be used in de-mining efforts, that’s located near the DMV in Kearneysville, began a partnership with the United Nations Mine Action Service in 2007. To date, it has donated 447 de-mining tools which are being used to find and deactivate mines in 27 countries.
In recognition, and in addition to a permanent display of a Schonstedt de-mining tool at the United Nations, a second magnetic locator unit is now featured in a recently opened exhibition in the Visitors Center at UN Headquarters in New York City.
“This is our way of helping to rid the world of unseen explosives that maim and kill indiscriminately – that keep people from moving freely about their villages, tending their crops or sending their children to school. It’s one way we’re able to do some good in the world,” said Bob Ebberson, program manager at Schonstedt.
The International Mine Action Training Center in Nairobi, Kenya was the first recipient of magnetic locators deployed as part of the program. Most recently, Schonstedt locators have been shipped to Mali and Afghanistan.
“Partnership is key to making United Nations work successful,” said Agnès Marcaillou, director of UNMAS. “There are partnerships with UN agencies, regional organizations like the African Union and partnerships with small businesses and nongovernmental organizations. One special partnership that assists the work of the United Nations Mine Action Service is with Schonstedt Instrument Company. The company has provided hundreds of donated magnetic locators to help us find mines and unexploded ordnance — a very practical and easy to use tool.”
UNMAS was established in 1997 to serve as the UN focal point for mine action and to support the UN’s vision of “a world free of the threat of landmines and unexploded ordnance, where individuals and communities live in a safe environment conducive to development, and where mine survivors are fully integrated into their societies.”