To help reduce this deadly threat, the U.S. State Department has launched a one-million-four-hundred-thousand dollar conventional weapons destruction program, which will also include the clearance of landmines and explosive remnants of war throughout heavily affected areas of northern Somalia.
This initiative is being carried out through grants to two non-governmental humanitarian organizations, Mine Advisory Group America, or MAG, and the HALO Trust. MAG will destroy stockpiles of conventional weapons collected from three military camps in Puntland, a region with more than two-million people located in northern Somalia. The grant will also fund the continued deployment of a MAG explosive ordnance disposal or EOD team tasked with identifying and destroying new stockpiles of munitions. Additionally, MAG will provide training to develop local EOD capacity.
The grant to The HALO Trust will reinforce landmine clearance operations in Somaliland. With over four-hundred-forty local Somali staff, HALO Trust is already the largest humanitarian demining organization in that region. Specifically, the grant will support HALO Trust demining teams which are equipped with state-of-the-art mine detectors, developed by the U.S. Department of Defense's Humanitarian Demining Research and Development Program.
The U.S. government grants to MAG and The HALO Trust will decrease the impact of landmines and explosive remnants of war on the Somali people while enabling enhanced development and humanitarian relief programs throughout the country.
The U.S. has been working for many years to reduce the threat these deadly munitions pose to civilians in many countries. And that effort is reflected in reduced casualties from landmines and explosive remnants of war. From an estimated twenty-six-thousand such casualties worldwide four years ago, five-thousand-seven-hundred-fifty-one were reported in 2006. By working together, the United States, other donors, and the mine action community can continue to work towards an "impact free" world.