Foley Hoag LLP has once again played an instrumental role in helping APOPO, a Brussels-based humanitarian demining organization, secure an additional $750,000 from the U.S. State Department's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (WRA) to clear mines in a dense minefield laid four decades ago inside the Sengwe Wildlife Corridor (SWC) on the border of Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The SWC is a narrow strip of land that also connects conservation parks in Zimbabwe and South Africa, and is included in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP), the largest conservation area in the world, spanning South Africa, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.

APOPO is best known for training African Giant Pouch Rats to sniff out unexploded landmines and is also developing a pioneering program to utilize GPS-linked dogs in mine detection. The new award adds to the original $750,000 grant that Foley Hoag helped secure for APOPO in 2020, along with several grant extensions thereafter – bringing the organization's total to $3.2 million over four years.

A mined SWC is particularly damaging to the global African Elephant population, seven percent of which is located within the GTLP. In addition, there are 28,000 people living near the SWC in Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The mined SWC forces villagers, many of whom are pastoralists, to travel hours around the minefield to find safe border crossings. This increases the costs of cross border commerce and separates families living on both sides. In addition, the mines have killed village livestock, which villagers rely on as their main source of income.

Senior Advisor Isa Mirza developed a strategic government engagement plan for APOPO and has represented the organization's leadership over the past several years in meetings with senior officials at WRA and senior staff on the U.S. House and Senate Appropriations Committees. Partner Gare A. Smith – a former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State – provided critical advice regarding engagement with the agency, while Corporate Partner Michael Glanz and Tax Partner James Montgomery continue to advise the organization's leadership on legal matters related to cross-border, nonprofit, and tax challenges.

The original 2020 grant represented the first time APOPO had ever received any funding from the U.S. Government, and the subsequent awards are a testament to the organization's growing partnership with the State Department to rid the world of mines.

The Foley Hoag team also collaborates with APOPO on advocacy efforts that are being spearheaded by other advocacy organizations in the mine action community, resulting in tens of millions of dollars more in U.S. humanitarian demining assistance being included in Congress's federal spending laws over the past several fiscal years. The team will continue to work with APOPO to support the mine action community's goal of completely demining Zimbabwe by 2025. Foley Hoag, APOPO, and APOPO's partners will also work together to advance funding for other heavily mined countries, in particular Cambodia, Angola, the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region claimed by both Azerbaijan and Armenia, and Ukraine.

In an effort to advance important humanitarian causes, Foley Hoag's work for APOPO is being conducted on an entirely pro bono basis. APOPO was referred to the firm by the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation.