“Around the world, landmines render thousands of acres of land unusable and literally tear away the fabric from communities unable to farm land, unable to walk safely from village to village ... [posing] a grave danger to the lives and safety of men, women, and children everywhere,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said recently in Washington at the release of the tenth edition of the ‘To Walk the Earth in Safety’ report.
“Over the last decade, we have helped decrease the worldwide number of landmine casualties from around 15,000 to 20,000 annually to approximately 4,000 in each of the last two years,” Secretary Clinton said. “That is still an unacceptably high figure, but the progress we made is due in no small part to the commitment of the United States Government and partner organizations to clear hundreds of thousands of anti-personnel and anti-vehicle landmines.”
‘To Walk the Earth in Safety’ report documents the $201 million in aid the United States provided in 2010 to help 49 countries clear explosive remnants of war and destroy excess stockpiles of weapons and munitions. In 10 years, the United States has helped destroy over 1.4 million small arms and light weapons; eliminate over 80,000 tons of unstable or excess munitions; and take more than 32,000 Man-Portable Air Defense Systems out of circulation.
“Clearing and destroying conventional weapons is only one part of our work.” Secretary Clinton said. “We are raising awareness about the threat of unexploded ordnance so that, whenever possible, we can prevent injuries from occurring. And when they do occur, we strive to help survivors and their families rebuild their lives.”
One of the next great challenges will be helping countries secure and destroy their stockpiles of unstable conventional munitions stored in dangerous depots. Since 1995, explosions at more than 200 of these depots have claimed thousands of lives in every region of the world.
“We stand firmly with all those working to address the harmful and indiscriminate effects of landmines and [munitions explosions] on civilians,” Secretary Clinton concluded. “This report is heartening proof that when we work together in common cause, we can make real progress, but it’s also a reminder of how much more we have to do.”