The repercussions of an armed conflict, no matter how long or how widespread it may have been, can drag on for decades. Explosive remnants of war pose a deadly hazard to people even during daily activities. They are a threat to livestock and limit agricultural production. At the same time, loosely secured small arms, light weapons, and munitions, may easily end up in the hands of the lawless, and raise the prospects of rising criminality. The result is regional instability and a hindrance to prosperity.
“The United States is the world’s single largest financial supporter of conventional weapons destruction,” said State Department Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, Bonnie Jenkins. “In 2021 alone, the United States funded conventional weapons destruction in 62 countries with more than $265 million. With this funding, our Conventional Weapons Destruction programs have accomplished a great deal. For example, they … returned more than 140 million square meters of land … for safe and productive use around the world.”
Many such accomplishments are highlighted in the 21st annual To Walk the Earth in Safety Report, released on April 4 by the State Department’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.
“Where local farmers once potentially risked their lives every time they visited their fields, many now can enjoy their harvests of bananas, cashews, coffee, and rice, as well as improved livestock grazing and water access after U.S. support helped survey and safely clear landmines and explosive remnants of war,” said Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Jessica Lewis in her introduction to this year’s report. U.S. funded programs “have helped increase agricultural output in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, promoted other food security efforts in Zimbabwe, and enhanced socio-economic development in Colombia.”
In Latin America and the Caribbean, U.S. assistance makes it more difficult for drug traffickers, criminal gangs, and terrorists to obtain weapons from poorly secured stockpiles.
U.S. support helps South and Central Asian countries secure weapons and ammunition stockpiles, thus promoting peace and security, and strengthening economic ties in the region.
And in Iraq, Lebanon, and Libya, the United States is funding survey, marking, and clearance operations of ISIS-emplaced explosives, so displaced families can return to their homes.
Conventional weapons destruction remains an important investment in regional stability, security and economic opportunity. The United States is committed to making post-conflict communities safer and setting the stage for their recovery and development.