printable banner

U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

The Middle East

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


The Landmine Problem
The Government of Egypt estimates there are approximately 5-5.75 million landmines and 15-15.25 million pieces of unexploded ordnance (UXO) on its territory. The largest mine and UXO problem, dating from World War II, exists in the northern portion of the Western Desert, along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, between the Nile Delta and the Libyan border. There, the most heavily mined areas are Alexandria, El Alamein, Ras-Al-Hekma, Marsa Matruth, Sidi Barrani, and Salloum. There are post-World War II mines and UXO in the east, in the Suez Canal area, along the western coast of the Red Sea, and in the Sinai Peninsula. The mines and UXO affect 2,800 sq. km of Egyptian land, 2,539 sq. km in the west and 261 sq. km in the east. According to the Egyptian Army, landmines and UXO have killed 696 people (including 418 civilians) and injured another 7,617 (4,599 civilians) since the end of World War II, with the majority of serious injuries occurring in the east.

United States Assistance
During Fiscal Year (FY) 00 and FY01, Egypt received $749,000 in U.S. humanitarian demining assistance to fund a U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) train-the-trainer program and the acquisition of modern demining equipment. In both 1999 and 2000, at the request of Egyptian authorities, the U.S. Department of Defense evaluated two mechanical demining systems in the World War II battlefields surrounding El Alamein. Egypt also receives U.S. Foreign Military Financing Funds, and in the future, the United States expects Egypt will redirect some of these funds to support humanitarian demining operations on a continuing basis.

In April 2000, the Government of Egypt signed a decree officially establishing a civilian-led National Demining Committee. From May 17 through August 15, 2001, the Department of Defense's train-the-trainer program in Egypt focused on mine detection and disposal, mine awareness, and survey and information management. Training also included a leadership and operations seminar for battalion and company commanders. Mine clearance operations are continuing in the Red Sea area at Hurghada.


The Landmine Problem
According to the Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF) Royal Corps of Engineers, there are 222,637 landmines in Jordan affecting an area of approximately 100 sq. km. Most of the mines date from the 1967 Arab-Israeli conflict. The majority of landmines are located in two discrete areas in the northwest region of the Jordan River Valley. One area is toward the northern end of the Valley on the border with Syria, near Lake Tiberias, and the other is farther south, near the northern end of the Dead Sea. Israeli-laid minefields are located mainly in the southwest part of the country in the Araba Valley in areas restored to Jordan after the Israeli occupation. Unexploded ordnance (UXO) is not a serious problem in Jordan. Demining is difficult since many of the mines, planted more than 30 years ago, have moved because of erosion, shifting sands, rain, and mudslides. At present, the Government of Jordan's demining operations focus on the 300 minefields in the Jordan River Valley. The Valley is the most fertile farmland in Jordan where arable land is scarce, but mines severely impede the production of food crops. The JAF Medical Services reports that 636 Jordanians, including 370 civilians, have become landmine victims since 1967. Ninety-two victims died from their injuries. The majority of civilian casualties were farmers, shepherds, hunters, and children. In 2000, landmines injured nine military personnel and three civilians.

United States Assistance
In Fiscal Year (FY) 00, the United States gave Jordan approximately $3.06 million in humanitarian demining assistance. Jordan received $997,000 in U.S. assistance in FY01: $795,750 for demining equipment; $131,300 for spare parts; and $20,000 for contract services.

The FY01 funds will bring total U.S. humanitarian demining assistance to Jordan since FY96 to almost $8 million. Jordan has used the assistance to augment its equipment inventory and the technical advice and manpower assistance that it receives from Israel. The funds have also enabled Jordan to receive demining training from U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) and to acquire a computer-managed training system known as the Demining Support System. Many of the remaining minefields are in difficult environmental areas. Demining in these areas will require the use of heavy equipment and new technologies provided by U.S. funding. The U.S. Department of Defense has tested several mechanical mine clearance systems in Jordan, including the Mini-Flail, the Enhanced Teleoperated Ordnance Disposal System, and the Rhino. The United States will continue to support Jordan's demining operations and work with the Government of Jordan towards the goal of the country becoming mine-safe early this century.

Since 1997, a national mine awareness program and successful demining operations have reduced civilian casualties dramatically, while the use of more effective protective equipment has lowered military casualties significantly. U.S. training has improved the capabilities of Jordan's Royal Corps of Engineers in mine detection and disposal, mine awareness, and survey and information management. At present, Jordan is conducting Level Two Surveys of minefields along the Syrian border. In addition, after a joint effort to clear ten Israeli-laid minefields in the Araba Valley, Jordan and Israel are discussing a strategy to remove the remaining mines. U.S. assistance has allowed Jordan to keep 100 deminers in the field on a daily basis. As of February 2000, Jordan's Royal Corps of Engineers had cleared 83,823 mines from more than 200 minefields, restoring more than 3,000 acres of land to safe use.


The Landmine Problem
The French Mandate period (1923-1943), the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990), and the time during which Israel occupied south Lebanon (1978-2000) have left Lebanon with an estimated 130,000 mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) in the former occupied zone and 150,000 mines and UXO in the rest of the country. The UN Intervention Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) claims that 50,644 anti-personnel landmines (APL) are located in 108 minefields along the Lebanon-Israel border, 7,730 APL and anti-tank mines in an additional 48 minefield clusters, and 107,200 APL elsewhere in the country. A survey conducted by Lebanon's Landmines Resource Center in 1998 and 1999 confirmed that minefields and suspected minefield locations include agricultural areas, former battlefields, and cities and villages located along old demarcation lines. Although some minefields are marked and fenced off, many others remain unmarked. Subsequent U.S. Government assessments have also found that the threat of improvised explosive devices, coupled with mines and other UXO, have left Lebanon with an unusually diverse and complex problem. As of July 2000, landmines and UXO had killed 1,168 Lebanese and wounded 1,546 more; 15 of the fatalities and 99 of the injuries occurred between May 2000 and May 2001. More than 40 percent of victims suffered their injuries while engaged in agricultural activities, the major source of income for Lebanese villagers. In South Lebanon and West Bekaa, there has been a noticeable decrease in agricultural production because of the presence of landmines.

United States Assistance
The United States provided Lebanon with nearly $1.3 million in humanitarian demining assistance in Fiscal Year (FY) 00. With this money, Lebanon acquired training in humanitarian demining, purchased mine detectors and heavy demining equipment, and funded a mine detection dog (MDD) program that will provide an innovative means of improving the country's demining capability. USAID's FY00 funding assisted the World Rehabilitation Fund (WRF) in implementing programs aimed at preventing landmine-related accidents and improving the physical, social, and economic conditions of people suffering from landmine-related injuries. In FY01, Lebanon received more than $1.62 million in U.S. assistance, including: $700,000 for the MDD program; $100,000 to support the National Demining Office; and, $200,000 to validate the utility of a mechanical vegetation removal/area reduction system. The U.S. Department of Defense also provided Thiokol demining flares to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) for field testing in an effort to enhance the LAF capability to dispose of landmines and UXO. Also in FY01, USAID will fund the establishment of a mine victim rehabilitation center in Jezzine, the site of the highest concentration of landmine victims.

The United States has supported a demining program in Lebanon since 1998 and has contributed a total of $4.5 million to the program. The U.S. military assisted in establishing a National Demining Office (NDO) and supported its further development through training and provision of equipment. U.S. military personnel also conducted a train-the-trainer program to provide an indigenous company of deminers capable of sustained operations. In addition, funds enabled the development of a national demining database. The U.S. military advised the Lebanese on establishing a mine information awareness program, and USAID, in partnership with USAID's Patrick J. Leahy War Victims Fund (LWVF) provided $600,000 to promote the involvement of community-based organizations and nongovernmental organizations in mine awareness.

By February 2001, UNIFIL had destroyed more than 2,500 mines and UXO. The WRF has initiated a nationwide survey to identify landmine victims and to map minefields. The United States continues to work with Lebanon toward the goal of achieving a qualified, trained, and equipped country capable of conducting its own humanitarian demining program.


The Landmine Problem
Oman has a small landmine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) problem. The vast majority of the landmines are found in the Dhofar region in the south. They are the result of the 1964-1975 internal conflict between the Government of Oman and the separatist group, the communist Popular Front for the Liberation of Oman and the Gulf (PFLOG). The Royal Omani Army (ROA) and its allies (Jordan, Iran, and the United Kingdom) used landmines to protect defensive positions and to interdict the movements of separatists, while the PFLOG used landmines to ambush ROA and allied units. The ROA states that it mapped, marked, and then cleared some of its minefields at the conclusion of the rebellion. The PFLOG did not map, mark, or clear their minefields. Heavy seasonal rains, terrain, and soil conditions have caused several of the mines to migrate from their original positions. According to the Government of Oman, landmines and UXO have killed 12 people and wounded 84 since the end of the Dhofar rebellion. Almost 50 head of livestock have become landmine casualties. In March 2001, there were two UXO incidents, resulting in serious injuries.

United States Assistance
The United States allocated $1.19 million in humanitarian demining assistance to Oman in Fiscal Year (FY) 00. The funds enabled the Government of Oman to develop a survey and information management capability to define mined areas effectively and to archive minefield data efficiently; to enhance the curriculum at the engineer school, which will enable it to train deminers to international standards in demining survey, marking, and clearance operations; to purchase modern detection and protective equipment to increase safety during operations; to train ROA personnel in the use of this equipment; to develop a mine awareness capability to support demining units at the regional and local levels; and to train ROA medical cadre and deminers to improve initial response medical and trauma capabilities. FY01 assistance of more than $1.02 million brought total U.S. contributions to $3.6 million. The FY01 funds are for, among other things, personal protection gear ($78,500), mine disposal technologies ($11,750), demining equipment ($161,200), logistic support ($21,100), and a U.S. Department of Defense train-the-trainer program ($750,000).

Recently, 75 Royal Omani Army soldiers graduated from engineer school, where they had received demining training from U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF). These deminers have begun humanitarian demining operations in the Dhofar region.


The Landmine Problem
Mines have been used in Yemen during three main periods: 1962-1969, 1970-1983, and in 1994. Unconfirmed reports indicate that approximately 100,000 landmines litter the Yemeni landscape as a result of these conflicts. A Level One Survey has identified 592 mine-affected communities in 95 districts in 18 of Yemen's 19 Governorates. Approximately 828,000 people, about six percent of the population, live in these communities. Of the almost 1,100 identified contaminated areas, there are mines in 859 of them, affecting 799 sq. km, and unexploded ordnance (UXO) in 200, covering an area of 200 sq. km. Combatants laid these landmines in an arbitrary and haphazard fashion, in sand dunes and fields and alongside roads, without marking their location. The mines block access to grazing land and to water for drinking and irrigation. For that reason, herders and children who do not attend school are the most vulnerable to landmine injuries. According to the Level One Survey, in 1999 and 2000, landmines and UXO killed at least 57 people and wounded 121 more; all but two of the victims were civilians. Estimates for landmine and UXO casualties prior to 1999 are more than 2,500 killed and over 2,200 injured.

United States Assistance
In Fiscal Year (FY) 00, Yemen received over $1.9 million in humanitarian demining assistance from the United States. The funds purchased mine detectors and vehicles to help outfit a third demining company, as well as personal protection gear for all deminers. FY01 U.S. assistance was $1.69 million, bringing total U.S. contributions since FY98 to over $8 million. FY01 funds of almost $1.7 million enabled Yemen to acquire, among other items, additional demining equipment ($489,800) and vehicles ($148,900), mine clearance materials ($166,200), medical supplies ($5,816), and logistic support items ($25,100), and to sustain current mine clearance contracts ($187,000). The vehicles equipped two additional demining companies for increased mine clearance operations.

U.S. assistance has funded a national demining program infrastructure and a train-the-trainer program, conducted by U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) soldiers. In December 1998, the first 150 Yemeni deminers graduated from the Humanitarian Demining Training Facility in Aden. Demining and UXO removal operations began in 1999 with the fielding of two U.S.-trained Yemeni demining companies. At the same time, mine awareness and victim assistance teams also began educating the local populace on demining efforts, while locating and offering assistance to people injured by landmines. As part of its commitment to the Government of Yemen, the United States will help establish a program that will assist the country in becoming mine-safe.

Two SOF-trained demining companies, numbering 350 personnel, began demining operations in 1999. Since then, they have cleared over 9,300 landmines and almost 52,000 UXO, restoring more than 192 sq. km of land to productive use. A U.S. ophthalmology team has treated more than 100 landmine victims and conducted medical training for local personnel at the same time.

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.