The U.S. State Department has released "To Walk the Earth in Safety," a report on U.S. efforts to reduce the impact of unexploded landmines and stem illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons.
According to the United Nations, "Since 1975, landmines have exploded under more than one million people and are currently thought to be killing eight-hundred people a month." Countless more remain in many countries around the world.
For example, large numbers of landmines and other pieces of unexploded ordnance remain in Afghanistan, in the Balkans, and large numbers remain in Angola and Cambodia. In some cases, such as in Colombia, more landmines and improvised explosive devices are being emplaced by terrorist groups.
Through its Humanitarian Mine Action Program, the U.S. provides assistance with clearing mines, educating people about the risks, and helping survivors. Total U.S. support for humanitarian mine action since 1993 passed the one billion dollar mark in 2005 and is still increasing. In Cambodia alone, the U.S has helped to clear more than two-hundred-fifty million square meters of land as well as helped its army to better secure their weapons and munitions. In Afghanistan, where landmines and unexploded ordnance cause nearly one-hundred casualties a month, U.S. assistance has helped to remove mines from more than twenty-two-million square meters of agricultural land and highways.
Altogether, some thirty countries, from Azerbaijan to Vietnam, currently receive some kind of mine-related aid. Thanks in part to the United States, genuine progress in de-mining is being made. John Hillen, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, says Costa Rica, Djibouti, Guatemala, and Honduras have already been "rendered impact-free."
Assistant Secretary of State Hillen says that U.S. "efforts over the years, in partnership with other governments, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations, have reduced landmine casualties, enabled millions to live, farm, and raise their children safely, and made mine action a more efficient discipline." He says, country by country, the U.S. "humanitarian mine action program is "helping to remove dangerous threats and enabling more people everywhere to be able 'to walk the earth safely'." This and past editions of “To Walk the Earth in Safety” may be read on the following website: www.state.gov/t/pm/wra/rpt.
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.