Loading

For all humanity Clearing landmines at the site of the baptism of christ

As a result of conflict, the site of the Baptism of Christ is heavily mined.

Known as Qaser al-Yahud, the Baptism site on the west bank of the Jordan River is home to abandoned churches and monasteries, which haven’t been safe to visit for fifty years.

It is believed that Qaser al-Yahud is where John the Baptist baptized Jesus. Christian tradition holds that this river bank and its counterpart on the eastern bank in Jordan are the place of the “spiritual birth” of Jesus. As such, the baptismal site is of great sacred significance. It is the third holiest site in the Christian world, after the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

The HALO Trust has the opportunity to remove the landmines so that everyone can explore the area in safety. HALO is confirming the support of the Palestinian and Israeli authorities, and the eight Christian denominations who own the land and buildings on the site to allow clearance to begin.

Clearing minefields at the Baptism Site not only removes a deadly legacy of conflict; it helps build bridges between fractured communities.

Once we have cleared the land, the churches can be refurbished and the land and churches along the western bank of the Jordan River can be visited once more in safety.

By reviewing technical plans in cooperation with the Israeli National Mine Action Authority, and consolidating HALO resources we have been able to reduce the cost of the project.

The history of Qaser al-Yahud

  • 400 AD – Monasteries and churches built to commemorate the site.
  • 1930s – The churches were rebuilt and services held next to the Holy site.
  • 1967 – During the Six Day War landmines were laid along the border with Jordan.
  • 2011 – A small part of the site was opened to the public for the first time, but with restricted access.
  • 2016 – Launch of global campaign to raise the funds required to make the Baptism site mine free.
  • 2018 – HALO begins clearance of the site.
"The Baptism Site was one of the most important sites for Christians - both from around the world and for local Christians from the region."

His Beatitude Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem.

Key Facts

The religious buildings have been too dangerous to visit since 1967.

The Roman Catholic Church and seven Eastern denominations (Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian, Greek, Romanian, Syrian and Russian) have churches or land on the minefield.

Some of the buildings are believed to be booby-trapped.

It is estimated that over 400,000 pilgrims and tourists visit annually, on the Epiphany and throughout the year to the small area currently made safe.

Over 2,600 landmines are estimated to be in the ground. An unknown quantity of unexploded ordnance is in and around the site.

The minefield covers almost 100 hectares (247 acres).

About The HALO Trust

The HALO Trust is the world’s largest humanitarian mine clearance organisation. We save lives and restore communities threatened by landmines and other weapons of war, such as cluster bombs, stockpiles of small arms and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Born out of a desire to help the people of Afghanistan in 1988, we now have over 8,000 staff in 24 countries and territories, working to get vulnerable communities back on their feet following conflict. Millions of families have been able to return to their homes safely thanks to this work.

We have been clearing minefields in the West Bank since 2014. During this time we have built trust across religious and cultural divides and we now have the approval of the Israelis, Palestinians and all the churches to clear landmines at Qaser al-Yahud.

"Please consider making this project a priority and joining us in raising awareness and funds. By supporting this unique project, we can play a vial role in helping to build bridges in the Holy Land"

Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, O.F.M., Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate

Help restore the Baptism site

Clearing minefields in the Holy Land removes a deadly legacy of conflict. It will benefit all of humanity to have this historic site restored.

We invite people of all faiths to join with us and raise funds to make this very special site safe for all humanity.

There are a number of ways to support this unique project. Here are a few options:

Make a donation to the campaign

Team up with others and raise funds

Spread the word by sharing news of the project on your website and in social networks

We need your support to clear the Baptism Site of landmines

Or by Cheque to

The HALO Trust, UK, Carronfoot, Thornhill, Dumfries, DG3 5BF.

Tel: +44 (0) 1848 331100 Email: mail@halotrust.org

The HALO Trust, USA, 1730 Rhode Island Ave NW, Suite 206, Washington DC, 20036.

Tel: +1 (202) 331-1266 Email: mail@halotrust.org

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.