The United States is the world’s single largest financial supporter of efforts to address landmines and unexploded ordnance, and to reduce the availability of loosely-secured, at risk weapons and munitions. Since 1993, the United States has invested more than $3.7 billion in more than 100 countries to fund conventional weapons destruction.
The U.S. State Department recently released its annual To Walk the Earth in Safety report. It highlights U.S. conventional weapons destruction programs and U.S. efforts to make post-conflict communities safer, setting the stage for their recovery and development.
The report notes that in Colombia, the United States provided more than $24 million in 2019 to continue the survey and clearance of explosive remnants of war and strengthened the capacity of Colombia’s National Mine Action Authority. Elsewhere in the hemisphere, the United States supported conventional weapons destruction programs in Central America and Peru.
In Iraq, the United States contributed $37.5 million last year to clearing explosive hazards, including improvised explosive devices, and promoting continued mine risk education throughout Iraq. These efforts have helped promote the safe return of displaced persons, including ethnic and religious minority communities that are persecuted by ISIS.
Since 1993, the United States has invested more than $148 million for programs in Vietnam that have cleared mines and provided mine risk education and survivor assistance. As a result, land is now being returned for civilian use, said U.S. Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Political Military Affairs Clarke Cooper. In 2019 Vietnam was able to release over 106 million square meters to farming and productive economic development. This is bringing resources and land access back into productive use, not just for safe access, but for community stability.
Through the conventional weapons destruction program, the U.S. government has collaborated with partner nations and international organizations since 2003 to destroy more than 41,000 poorly-secured man-portable air-defense systems or MANPADS – these shoulder-fired missiles, if not safeguarded, pose a serious threat to global aviation.
United States assistance, along with that of its global partners, is crucial to building a safer and more prosperous world.
The State Department looks forward to continuing this important work with other donor countries, those impacted by conflict, and the brave men and women who secure at-risk weapons and munitions, and clear landmines and other explosive hazards.