The United States first became involved in humanitarian demining in 1988 when the U.S. Agency for International Development sent a team to assess the landmine situation in Afghanistan. Five years later, U.S. demining-related programs were underway in Afghanistan and in seven other countries.
By the end of 2002, the United States will have provided more than $600,000,000 to 43 countries, as well as to northwest Somalia, for various humanitarian demining efforts, such as deminer training, mine awareness and mine clearance, orthopedic assistance to, and socioeconomic reintegration programs for, landmine accident survivors and their families. More than $100,000,000 of this total was spent in Fiscal Year 2002, one of the largest commitments of any nation involved in financing humanitarian demining activities.
The goals of the U.S. Humanitarian Demining Program are simple and direct: to reduce the loss of life and limb of innocents; to create conditions for the safe return of refugees and internally displaced persons; and to afford opportunity for economic and social reconstruction. Our principal means of achieving these objectives is to assist all mine-afflicted countries in establishing a sustainable, indigenous demining capacity with the appropriate resources and skills needed to sustain that degree of progress that allows a country to declare itself mine-safe.
This, the fourth edition of "To Walk the Earth in Safety: The United States Commitment to Humanitarian Demining," tells the U.S. story, but not the whole story. Foreign governments, the United Nations, other international and non-governmental organizations, and mine-affected countries also play a critical role in supporting humanitarian demining programs. The impact of these collective contributions has already been felt in many of these countries. In the near future several countries will be able to declare themselves mine-safe, while many other countries are even now capable of sustaining their own mine-action activities. Hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced persons have returned to their homes. Tens of thousands of acres of land formerly fallow because of the presence of landmines are now burgeoning with agricultural produce necessary to sustain life. Roads to marketplaces are now open; access to potable water is once more available; previously empty schools again are the centers of learning for the nations' young.
Most importantly, the number of reported landmine casualties continues to drop, while landmine survivors are once more assuming their rightful roles as contributing members of their societies.
The success stories in this publication attest to the United States Government's belief that when we assist other countries in meeting needs such as clearing landmines, we are serving America's long-term interests and staying true to America's permanent values. The U.S. Humanitarian Demining Program, as are our other assistance efforts, is more than foreign aid; these programs also aid America. Our assistance helps define America's role in the world, often contributes to the economic well being of our own citizens and those of other countries, and advances our interest in peace, stability, and freedom abroad.
Lincoln P. Bloomfield, Jr.
Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs
and Special Representative of the President
and Secretary of State for Mine Action