printable banner

U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action


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


The Landmine Problem
Afghanistan remains severely affected by landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). The UN's Mine Action Program for Afghanistan (MAPA) has identified 723 sq. km of land as being mine-affected, and has assessed 344 sq. km of the land as being a high priority for clearance. While the UN estimates that there are five to seven million landmines in the country, some NGOs claim that, based on their clearance experiences in heavily mined areas, official estimates are too high. The most heavily mined areas are the provinces bordering Iran and Pakistan. Most of the mines are located in agricultural fields, irrigation canals, and grazing areas. Mines are also found on roads and in residential and commercial areas. Security belts of landmines also exist around major cities, airports, government installations, and power stations. Landmines cause an estimated 200 casualties each month. An equally significant problem is the existence of large amounts of UXO, which have inflicted extensive injuries and destruction. UXO contamination is especially severe in Kabul.

United States Assistance
The United States provides its assistance for humanitarian demining activities through the UN's Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance to Afghanistan (UNOCHA). In Fiscal Year (FY) 00, UNOCHA received $3 million from the United States, and in FY01 it received $2.8 million. The FY00 assistance continued funding of the mine detection dog program, manual and mechanical clearance operations, mine survey teams, and the purchase of additional and replacement demining equipment. The United States divided its FY01 contribution of $2.8 million between UNOCHA ($800,000 for demining equipment, $900,000 for mine clearance) and the Hazardous Area Life-support Organization (HALO) Trust ($1.1 million for mine clearance).

Since FY89, the United States has provided nearly $28 million in humanitarian demining assistance for Afghanistan. In 1998, the U.S. Government tested a prototype system-the Airspade-to uncover landmines and eliminate the need for probing. In 1989, USAID funded the original mine detection dog program, turning it over to the UN in 1994. Today, the Mine Detection Dog Center bears responsibility for the program and breeds and trains all mine detecting dogs used in Afghanistan. Through the years, U.S. assistance has also paid for mine awareness programs, minefield surveys and markings, training of deminers, and mine clearance.

MAPA is one of the most effective demining programs in the world. Mine awareness briefings to more than seven million people have contributed significantly to lowering the landmine casualty rate by an estimated 50 percent. Afghani deminers have cleared over 224 sq. km of high priority, mine-infested land and 321 sq. km of former battlefield areas, while destroying approximately 210,000 landmines and 985,000 pieces of UXO.

As a result of their efforts, more than 1.5 million refugees and internally displaced persons have been able to return to their homes. In addition, the cleared land has enabled MAPA to provide employment opportunities to over 9,200 farmers and industrial workers, increased agricultural outputs (valued at $14.2 million U.S. dollars), and livestock production (valued at $43.4 million U.S. dollars).


The Landmine Problem
The Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) estimates there are between 300,000 and one million landmines and over 2.5 million pieces of unexploded ordnance (UXO) contaminating 2,000 sq. km of Cambodian soil. The majority of landmines and UXO are found in seven of the western, northwestern, and northern provinces, while two central and southern provinces contain large areas of suspected minefields. Aerial-delivered UXO is found mainly in the eastern and central provinces. Over the last several years, the landmine and UXO casualty rate has been decreasing steadily.

United States Assistance
In Fiscal Year (FY) 00, the United States allocated almost $3.1 million to fund mine clearance operations by the Hazardous Area Life-support Organization (HALO) Trust and the Mines Advisory Group, efforts of the Cambodian Red Cross to establish a Mine Incident Database, and assistance to mine victims. The United States provided $4.5 million in FY01 for mine clearance and the acquisition of demining equipment and personal protective gear.

Cambodia has received more than $28 million in U.S. humanitarian demining assistance since FY93. The funding has augmented financial assistance from the UN Development Program Trust Fund and other international donors allowing Cambodia to obtain necessary demining training and equipment. Between 1994 and 1997, U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) soldiers trained 1,200 Cambodians in basic mine awareness activities, demining techniques, and medical skills. In addition, the UN, using U.S. assistance funds, provided additional demining training to 537 Royal Cambodian Armed Forces engineers. In 2000, the U.S. Department of Defense provided a highly effective system for vegetation clearance-the Pearson Survivable Demining Tractor and Tools-to a nongovernmental organization (NGO) operating in Cambodia for field-testing and evaluation. USAID's Patrick J. Leahy War Victims Fund (LWVF) supports a variety of programs addressing the physical, social, and economic reintegration of persons disabled by landmines. Since 1992, USAID has invested almost $10 million in Cambodia's Prosthetics and Rehabilitation programs. The funds support the Disability Action Council, a semi-autonomous body that has been delegated authority by the Royal Cambodian Government to oversee all programs related to people with disabilities, and the Vietnam Veterans of America's (VVAF), which supports four rehabilitation centers around the country.

The humanitarian demining program in Cambodia is now in the sustainment phase, with a fully trained staff of about 2,400 Cambodians plus 35 foreign technical advisors and six UN staff members. The information in the Cambodian Red Cross Mine Incident Database has proven invaluable to CMAC, NGOs, and donors in making informed planning and prioritization decisions. U.S. and international assistance have lowered reported landmine casualties from 2,799 in 1996 to 811 in 2000, a reduction of almost 70 percent. While one of every 45 Cambodians is an amputee, USAID funds have not only enabled Cambodia's prosthetics and rehabilitation programs to provide mobility assistance to nearly 10,000 landmine victims and other people with disabilities, but also have been instrumental in the development and success of a national coordinating agency for the disabled in Cambodia. From 1992 to June 2001, CMAC deminers cleared some 145,600,000 sq. m of land, destroying 131,176 mines and 603,774 pieces of UXO.


The Landmine Problem
Between 1964 and 1973, intense ground combat and the dropping of approximately two million tons of ordnance, up to 30 percent of which did not explode, left over 87,000 sq. km of Laos infested with landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). There are no realistic estimates of either the number of landmines or unexploded submunitions, referred to by the Laos as "bombies." The presence of UXO is widespread in nine of Laos' seventeen provinces, the most contaminated areas being in the northern provinces of Houaphan and Xieng Khouang, and along the border with Vietnam. From 1987 through 1996, the number of UXO victims averaged 240 annually, a sharp drop from the average of 1,100 annually for 1973 through 1976.

United States Assistance
Laos received almost $1.5 million in U.S. humanitarian demining assistance in Fiscal Year (FY) 00. The funds purchased demining equipment and vehicles, allowing the Government of Laos to expand operations to 34 of the 38 most heavily UXO-infested districts. The assistance also provided subsequent training support to the national Nam Suong UXO Training Center, enabling students to complete an advanced UXO removal course. In FY01, the United States allocated over $1 million in assistance, $293,000 for demining equipment and $520,000 for the Lao Trust Fund.

The United States is the single largest donor to the Lao mine and UXO clearance program, having contributed almost $18 million since FY96. U.S. assistance helped establish the National Demining Office, and supports the national UXO training center, staffed by a U.S. military training team and Lao instructors. The Center offers courses in community awareness, mine and UXO clearance techniques, medical training, and leadership development. U.S. funds also sustained mine and UXO awareness in eight provinces, mine and UXO clearance in seven others, and established rapid response teams in the remaining five provinces. Additionally, the U.S. Government provided five prototype technologies for evaluation in 1998.

Since 1990, USAID's Patrick J. Leahy War Victims Fund (LWVF) has contributed over $6 million to support rehabilitation services, UXO awareness programs, and to develop emergency response capabilities to UXO traumas. Under a current $2.6 million partnership with a mine action consortium, the LWVF supports the upgrading of medical, surgical and emergency services, facilities and human resources, and, in collaboration with UNICEF, a national primary school UXO awareness curriculum.

U.S. Special Operations Force (SOF) soldiers have trained more than 1,000 Lao, creating an indigenous training capability. From FY96, when U.S. assistance began, through FY00, UXO LAO personnel have destroyed more than 292,000 pieces of UXO, cleared 1,880 hectares of land, and conducted 5,848 mine/UXO awareness visits in over 2,500 villages. Thus far, more than 300 Lao medical staff members have received training in emergency rehabilitation or laboratory services, and one provincial and five district hospitals have received medical equipment and supplies. The LWVF has also provided free medical treatment to UXO victims. The United States will continue to work with UXO LAO to build an indigenous capacity and to provide sustainment funding so that it can assume control of all operations by the end of 2001.


The Landmine Problem
Over the past four decades, Thailand's internal and external conflicts have left landmine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) contamination along all four borders, with new mines being laid along the northwestern Thai-Burma border. The Thailand Mine Action Center (TMAC) estimates that there are more than one million mines and UXO in the country's soil. The results of a recently completed Level One Mine Impact Survey show that landmines and UXO are present at 933 sites occupying an area of 2,500 sq. km, and affect 530 communities with a population of more than 400,000. The principal socioeconomic impacts of landmine and UXO contamination are reduced availability of land for cultivation and grazing and decreased access to forest resources. According to TMAC, landmines and UXO killed or injured 346 people over the two-year period, 1999-2000.

United States Assistance
The United States provided almost $3 million in humanitarian demining assistance to Thailand in Fiscal Year (FY) 00 for the purchase of demining equipment, establishment of a mine detection dog program, provision of demining training, the conduct of a Level One Survey in the most heavily mined areas, and mine clearance operations. In FY01, Thailand received $1.42 million in assistance, $1.07 million for demining equipment and $350,000 for the mine detection dog program.

U.S. humanitarian demining assistance to Thailand totals more than $5 million since FY98. In addition to providing essential demining equipment, the funds helped establish facilities for basic demining training at Ratchaburi, and a demining school at Lop Buri to teach mine awareness. U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) soldiers have trained more than 200 Thais in compliance with international demining standards.

The U.S. Department of Defense has provided several systems for field testing in Thailand—the Pearson Survivable Demining Tractor and Tools, the Tempest, Thiokol demining flares, and liquid explosive foam (LEXFOAM). TMAC not only demonstrated the effectiveness of the two vegetation clearance systems, they also gained invaluable experience in integrating mechanical systems into their demining operations.

In June 2000, the Government of Thailand dedicated the Thailand Mine Action Center, and in July, mine clearance operations began in Sa Kaew Province. The purpose of this pilot project is to develop an integrated approach to demining that will serve as a model for a balanced national program. When fully mature, the program will include fully integrated mine awareness activities, surveys, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD), rapid response capability, mine detection dogs, and manual and mechanical clearance capabilities. Since September 2000, Thai deminers have cleared more than 18,417 sq. m of land, destroying 934 landmines and 1,269 UXO in the process.


The Landmine Problem
The U.S. Department of State and the UN estimate that there are 3.5 million landmines in Vietnam. The estimated 300,000 tons of unexploded ordnance (UXO) constitute an additional, and quite possibly, more prevalent threat, in particular large, unexploded aerial bombs. Quang Tri Province, which adjoins the former border between North and South Vietnam, is one of the most affected regions of Vietnam, although mines and UXO also pose a threat near the border with China, and in regions bordering Laos. A 1999 Government of Vietnam report claimed that as of May 1998, landmines and UXO have killed 38,248 people and injured 64,064 more. USAID has observed that, with over 2,000 landmine casualties annually, Vietnam has been left with perhaps the world's highest proportion of amputees.

United States Assistance
Vietnam received almost $3 million in U.S. humanitarian demining assistance in Fiscal Year (FY) 00 for the purchase of mine detection equipment, the conduct of mine clearance operations, and grants for mine action activities. In FY01, the U.S. allocated $3.5 million in assistance for the purchase of additional demining equipment, including personal safety equipment, metal detectors, and vehicles. The assistance also supported a much-needed Level One Survey to determine the scope of the landmine and UXO problem and to assist the Vietnamese in identifying areas where landmines and UXO pose the greatest threat to civilians, arable land, and economic infrastructure. Complementary projects include the funding of one computer system and database that will identify the location of landmines and the location and type of UXO used during past conflicts. Another new system will assist the Government of Vietnam in managing its mine and UXO clearances efforts. In addition, DoD is planning demining computer training in FY01.

Although Vietnam did not formally enter the U.S. Humanitarian Demining Program until 2000, the United States provided funds in 1998 and 1999 to the nongovernmental organization (NGO), Peace Trees Vietnam, and James Madison University to establish a mine awareness training center. The center, located in Dong Ha in Quang Tri Province, focuses on mine awareness for children, using local "people's committees" to conduct the training.

Since 1991, USAID's Leahy War Victims Fund (LWVF) has been a leader in providing support for rehabilitation assistance in Vietnam. To date, the LWVF has provided more than $16 million through numerous NGO and private voluntary organizations.

Through the LWVF, more than 3,000 rehabilitation personnel have received training, nine rehabilitation centers have been renovated and upgraded, and more than 52,000 people have been provided with mobility assistance.  

Back to Top

Do you already have an account on one of these sites? Click the logo to sign in and create your own customized State Department page. Want to learn more? Check out our FAQ!

OpenID is a service that allows you to sign in to many different websites using a single identity. Find out more about OpenID and how to get an OpenID-enabled account.