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Diplomacy in Action

Overview of the U.S. Humanitarian Demining Program

To Walk the Earth in Safety: The United States Commitment to Humanitarian Demining
Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
November 2001

"To Walk the Earth in Safety: The United States Commitment to Humanitarian Demining" informs the reader of the U.S. commitment to rid the world of landmines that are threatening civilian lives. "Hidden Killers 2001: The Global Landmine Problem,"(an Appendix to this edition of "To Walk the Earth in Safety"), identifies almost 60 countries affected with either an APL or unexploded ordnance (UXO) problem, or both. Through objectives defined by the U.S. Humanitarian Demining Program, we are able to reduce the number of civilian landmine casualties; return refugees and internally displaced persons (IDP) threatened by landmines to their homes; and enhance the political and economic stability of those countries affected by landmines.

A U.S. Government Policy Coordinating Committee (PCC) Sub-Group on mine action, chaired by the National Security Council, with the Department of State (DOS), the Department of Defense (DoD), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Central Intelligence Agency as members, is in charge of approving, developing, and coordinating U.S. humanitarian demining assistance. A typical U.S. program involves assisting in the establishment of a mine action center (MAC), a mine awareness program, and a demining training program. As a country develops its mine clearance capabilities, the PCC Sub-Group will periodically evaluate the development of the program. When the program reaches self-sustainment, the United States passes off its active role to the host nation.

The DOS, through its Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Humanitarian Demining Programs (PM/HDP) is the lead agency in coordinating U.S. humanitarian demining programs worldwide. With basic funding from the Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining and Related (NADR) programs appropriation, PM/HDP oversees the day-to-day management of bilateral demining assistance programs. In addition, the DOS's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration supports the multilateral commitment to refugee needs through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Finally, USAID promotes sustainable development by providing humanitarian services in post-conflict situations. USAID's Bureau of Humanitarian Response, Office of Transition Initiatives, bridges the gap between emergency humanitarian assistance and long-term development assistance by supporting organizations and people in emergency transition in conflict-prone countries. In addition, USAID's Patrick J. Leahy War Victims Fund contributes to improving the mobility, health, and social integration of the disabled, including landmine survivors. Typically, USAID works through nongovernmental organizations (NGO) to develop a country's capacity of sustainable services for amputees.

Generally, DoD funds a humanitarian demining program's start-up costs, and DOS provides subsequent funds to procure the necessary equipment for mine-affected countries to conduct mine clearance operations. From 1994 through 2000, DoD spent over $90 million on mine action programs in nearly 30 countries. An additional $38.3 million has been appropriated for DoD-sponsored demining operations in Fiscal Year (FY) 01, including $12.7 million for humanitarian demining technology research and development. The components of the DoD humanitarian demining program are: (1) mine awareness education; (2) MAC development; (3) civil-military cooperation; (4) victim assistance; (5) demining training—or train-the-trainer—the core of the program. More than 4,000 indigenous trainers have benefited from this core program.

The U.S. Government has now approved programs to assist 38 landmine-affected countries, as well as the Province of Kosovo and northwest Somalia. Through its Humanitarian Demining Program and Emergency Demining Initiative, the list is expected to expand as the United States approves more applicant countries each year. "To Walk the Earth in Safety" describes the extensive history of the U.S. commitment to humanitarian demining in these 40 locations. The following table depicts all U.S.-funded humanitarian demining support intended to promote our interests in peace, prosperity, and regional stability since FY93.

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