The United States is expanding its efforts to protect innocent civilians following armed conflicts by helping remove unexploded ordnance and landmines abandoned by combatant forces. Such threats litter the scenes of fighting in nations around the world, and by addressing them the U.S. demonstrates its commitment to a set of values that respects human life.
Under the initiative, a humanitarian Quick Reaction Force is being established to respond at a moment's notice to urgent situations requiring removal or mitigation of explosive hazards posed by conventional weapons, land mines or other such weapons. An assessment team will be deployed quickly to investigate threats and recommend action to eliminate them. A team of technical experts would follow to help implement recommendations for removing and destroying the weapons.
The Quick Reaction Force expands on an ongoing U.S. humanitarian effort to respond to such threats. In 2000, the State Department created a special team that focused on removing landmines following conflicts in Iraq, Sudan, Sri Lanka and Mozambique. U.S. government contractors currently are in Georgia conducting an assessment of unexploded ordnance left from the recent fighting between that nation and Russia.
This commitment builds on a U. S. pledge to protect victims of conflict and create conditions for the return of refugees and displaced persons to their homes. It also sets an example for other nations in controlling their munitions and sharing best practices.