The Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs is providing $1 million in support of Guinea-Bissau’s efforts to rid itself of landmines as well as excess and deteriorating arms and munitions.
“Our sustained efforts to help clear the explosive hazards remaining from Guinea-Bissau’s struggle for independence and from its civil war demonstrate America’s friendship and genuine concern for the well-being of its people,” remarked Andrew J. Shapiro, the Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs. “Our mine action and conventional weapons destruction programs are truly humanitarian and transcend political differences.”
The United States is providing $682,000 to HUMAID, a non-governmental organization founded in Guinea-Bissau, which succeeded in making the capital, Bissau, free from the humanitarian impact of landmines in 2006. HUMAID is currently clearing landmines and unexploded ordnance in Guinea-Bissau’s interior. $318,000 will be provided to the non-governmental organization Cleared Ground Demining (www.clearedground.org/ ) to continue safe disposal of Guinea-Bissau’s excess and aging arms and munitions, and to respond rapidly to calls from the authorities and the public to destroy landmines and unexploded munitions that still litter parts of this West African country.
With these new grants, the inter-agency U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action Program will have invested nearly $6 million dollars since 1999 to help Guinea-Bissau clear its “hidden killers,” destroy some of the contents of its “dangerous depots” (www.state.gov/t/pm/rls/fs/141988.htm), and field test a MAXX vegetation clearance system (www.humanitariandemining.org/NewDesign/resources/MAXXPlus_FS.pdf). Past assistance also included the U.S. Air Force’s provision of explosive ordnance disposal training to local deminers.