This year, the United States celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the U.S. Humanitarian Demining Program.
Once the fighting ends, peace treaties are signed and armies disbanded, too often the world assumes that life in former conflict areas will soon return to normal. But in many countries, landmines and unexploded munitions obstruct the path to stabilization and inhibit long-term development.
Not until these deadly hazards are removed can communities realize the benefits of a return to peace and further promote stability and security.
This year, the United States celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the U.S. Humanitarian Demining Program. In 1993, the Department of State, Department of Defense and the U.S. Agency for International Development formed an interagency partnership to coordinate U.S. global efforts aiding countries in removing landmines and unexploded ordnance, and destroying unsecured weapons and munitions.
This was an important step, said Acting Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Thomas Kelly.
“U.S. efforts have helped numerous countries reduce the impact of landmines and unexploded ordnance, contributed to a dramatic reduction in the worldwide annual casualty rate from these threats, allowed refugees and internally displaced persons to return safely to their homes, enhanced the political and economic stability of nations affected by landmines, and increased international security.”
The U.S. program also supports medical rehabilitation and vocational training for those injured by landmines and explosive remnants of war, as well as community outreach to prevent further injuries and essential investments in research and development of new technologies.
The United States is the world’s single largest financial supporter of conventional weapons destruction programs in dozens of countries around the globe. On September 17, as it has done every year since 2001, the Department of State released its annual report on these efforts, entitled, "To Walk the Earth in Safety."
According to the report, since 1993, the U.S. has contributed over $2 billion to more than 90 countries around the world to reduce the harmful worldwide effects of at-risk, illicitly proliferated, and indiscriminately used conventional weapons of war. Last year alone, the State Department has contributed $149 million to assisting 35 post-conflict countries.
The United States leads the world in helping countries eliminate the most dangerous remnants of war, allowing millions of people to live in safety.