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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
September 2002
Report
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Flag of EgyptEgypt

 


The Landmine Problem
Egypt is one of the most mine- and UXO-afflicted countries on earth. The Government of Egypt claims that the country is infested with approximately 20,000,000-21,000,000 mines and UXO, and removing or destroying them is essential to public safety and national development efforts. 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; the most heavily mined areas are Alexandria, El Alamein, Ras-Al-Hekilometersa, Marsa Matruth, Sidi Barrani, and Salloum. Post-World War II mines and UXO are 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 kilometers2 of land: 2,539 kilometers2 in the west, and 261 kilometers2 in the east. According to the Egyptian Army, landmines and UXO have killed at least 696 people (including 418 civilians) and injured at least 7,617 people (4,599 civilians) since the end of World War II, with the majority of serious injuries occurring in the east.

United States Assistance
In FY01, Egypt received $708,000 in U.S. humanitarian demining assistance to fund a U.S. military train-the-trainer program and the acquisition of modern demining equipment; U.S. training was conducted during the summer of 2001. In both 1999 and 2000, at the request of Egyptian authorities, the DoD evaluated two mechanical demining systems in the World War II battlefields surrounding El Alamein. Humanitarian demining in Egypt is closely connected to the country's overall development goals, particularly along the northern Egyptian coast. Egypt also receives substantial U.S. Foreign Military Financing funds and, in the future, the United States expects Egypt will use some of these funds to support humanitarian demining operations on a continuing basis.

Accomplishments
The train-the-trainer program, conducted in Egypt from May through August 2001, focused on mine detection and disposal, mine awareness, and survey and information management. Training also included a leadership and operations seminar for Egyptian Army battalion and company commanders. Mine-clearance operations are continuing in the Red Sea area at Hurghada.

Flag of JordanJordan

 

The Landmine Problem
According to the Royal Corps of Engineers of the Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF), approximately 310,000 landmines seriously affect an area of approximately 100 kilometers2. Most 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 located near 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. UXO is not a serious problem in Jordan. Demining is difficult because many of the mines, laid more than 30 years ago, have moved due to erosion, shifting sands, rain, and mudslides. At present, the Government'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, and these mines severely impede the production of food crops. JAF Medical Services reports that at least 636 Jordanians, including 370 civilians, have become landmine victims since 1967, and 92 of these victims died from 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 FY02, the United States provided Jordan with approximately $850,000 for humanitarian demining assistance. Jordan also received $951,000 in U.S. assistance in FY01, the majority of it for the purchase of demining equipment and spare parts. The FY02 funds will bring the total U.S. humanitarian demining assistance to Jordan since FY96 to more than $8,800,000. Jordan has used this financial assistance to augment its equipment inventory and procure technical advice and manpower from Israel. The funds have also enabled Jordan to receive demining training from U.S. military forces, and to acquire a computer-managed training system known as the Demining Support System. Many of the remaining minefields are in challenging environmental areas. Demining in these areas will require heavy equipment and new technologies that U.S. funding can provide, e.g., a bulldozer, wheel loader, rear dump truck, and manual demining equipment (demining vests, helmets, and mine detectors). The DoD 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 toward the goal of the country becoming mine-safe early this century.

Accomplishments
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. military 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 Technical Surveys of minefields along the Syrian border. In addition, after a joint effort to clear 10 Israeli-laid minefields in the Araba Valley, Jordan and Israel are discussing a strategy to remove the remaining mines. U.S. assistance has helped Jordan to keep 100 deminers in the field on a daily basis. As of July 2002, Jordan's Royal Corps of Engineers had cleared more than 86,600 mines from 131 minefields, restoring more than 3,000 acres of land to safe use.

Flag of LebanonLebanon

 


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 created a country with a large landmine and UXO problem. There are approximately 130,000 landmines and UXO in the former Israeli security zone, and approximately 150,000 in the rest of Lebanon. In December 2001, the Government of Israel informed the Government of Lebanon of the presence of another 300,000 landmines, mainly along the border between the two countries. A U.S.-funded 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 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 June 2002, landmines had killed 1,072 and wounded 1,622 Lebanese; 23 of the fatalities and 119 of the injuries occurred between May 2000 and June 2002. More than 40 percent of these victims suffered injuries while engaged in agricultural activities, the major source of income for villagers. In South Lebanon and West Bekaa, because of the presence of landmines, a noticeable decrease in agricultural production has been noted.

United States Assistance
The United States provided Lebanon with $1,305,000 in humanitarian demining assistance in FY02. With help from the United States, Lebanon implemented an MDD program, and provided logistical demining training services to the National Demining Office of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). LAF officers also received quality assurance training in FY02. In FY01, Lebanon received more than $1,620,000 in U.S. assistance, including $700,000 for the MDD program; $100,000 to support the NDO; and $200,000 to validate the utility of a mechanical vegetation removal/area reduction system. The DoD also provided Thiokol demining flares to the LAF for field-testing in an effort to enhance their capability to dispose of landmines and UXO. Also in FY01, USAID funded the establishment of a mine-victim rehabilitation center in Jezzine, the site of the highest concentration of landmine victims. According to the Land Mine Resource Center at Lebanon's Balamand University, landmines killed 240 and injured 116 people in the Jezzine and East Sidon areas during the last four years. The Resource Center provides vocational training for 374 landmine victims, and organizes awareness campaigns warning about the dangers of landmines.

The United States has supported the demining program in Lebanon since 1998, and has contributed almost $6,000,000 to it. With these funds, Lebanon acquired training in humanitarian demining, purchased mine detectors and heavy demining equipment, and funded an 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) to implement programs aimed at preventing landmine-related accidents and improving the physical, social, and economic conditions of people suffering landmine-related injuries. The U.S. military assisted in establishing an NDO and supported its further development through training and provision of equipment. U.S. military personnel also conducted a train-the-trainer program to improve the capability of an indigenous company of deminers in 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, through the LWVF, also provided $1,400,000 to expand socio-economic opportunities for landmine survivors, and to coordinate national efforts to address problems related to the presence of landmines.

Accomplishments
The Lebanese Ministry of Defense has cleared 445 of 2,721 minefields, destroying nearly 52,500 mines and 52,000 items of UXO, resulting in the clearance of 3,020,000 meters2 of land. The WRF has initiated a nationwide survey to identify landmine victims and to map minefields. In 2001, the LWVF began support of the WRF Program, "Expanding Economic Opportunities for Survivors of Landmines in the District of Jizzine." This WRF program is the first of its kind to address the economic needs of a war-affected sector of society. The United States continues to work with Lebanon toward the goal of achieving a qualified, trained, and equipped cadre of deminers capable of conducting the country's own humanitarian demining program.

Flag of OmanOman

 

The Landmine Problem
Oman has a small landmine and UXO problem. The vast majority of landmines is found in the Dhofar region in the south, the result of the 1964-1975 internal conflict between the Government of Oman and a 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 movement of separatists, and the PFLOG used landmines to ambush ROA and allied units. The ROA states that it mapped, marked, and then cleared some of their minefields at the conclusion of the rebellion. The PFLOG, however, did not map, mark, or clear their minefields. Heavy seasonal rains, terrain, and soil conditions have caused many mines to migrate from their original positions. According to the Government, landmines and UXO have killed at least 12 and wounded 84 people since the end of the Dhofar rebellion, and almost 50 livestock have become landmine casualties. In March 2001, there were two UXO incidents resulting in serious injuries.

United States Assistance
The United States allocated $307,000 in humanitarian demining assistance to Oman in FY02, bringing the total U.S. contributions to $2,650,000. In FY02, with help from RONCO, a commercial U.S. contractor, an MDD capability was established to support demining operations, and to verify clearance of mined areas. FY01 funds of $1,143,000 were used to procure, 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. military train-the-trainer program ($750,000). Previous U.S. funding enabled the Government of Oman to develop a survey and information management capability to define mined areas effectively, and to archive minefield data efficiently; enhance the curriculum at the engineer school to enable it to train deminers to international standards in demining surveys, marking, and clearance operations; purchase modern detection and protective equipment to increase safety during operations; train ROA personnel in the use of this equipment; develop a mine-awareness capability to support demining units at regional and local levels; and to train ROA medical cadre and deminers in improving initial response medical and trauma capabilities.

Accomplishments
In 2001, 75 ROA soldiers graduated from engineer school, having received U.S. military demining training, and they have begun humanitarian demining operations in the Dhofar region. Using MDD teams, 1,500 meters2 of land were cleared and 100 percent quality assurance obtained. RONCO also conducted demolitions training for nine Omani military personnel.

Flag of YemenYemen

 


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 three conflicts. A Landmine Impact 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 approximate 1,100 identified contaminated areas, 859 contain mines affecting 799 kilometers2, and UXO, located in 200 locations, cover an area of 200 kilometers2. Combatants laid these landmines in an arbitrary and haphazard fashion in sand dunes and fields and alongside roads without marking their locations. The mines block access to grazing land and to water sources for drinking and irrigation. For this reason, herders and children who do not attend school are the most vulnerable to landmine injuries. Since 1998, landmines have caused more than 700 casualties. Estimates of landmine and UXO casualties prior to 1998 are more than 2,500 killed and more than 2,200 injured.

United States Assistance
In FY02, U.S. humanitarian demining assistance to Yemen amounted to $750,000. FY01 funds of more than $1,000,000 enabled Yemen to acquire, among other items, additional demining equipment ($489,800), vehicles ($148,900), mine-clearance materials ($166,200), medical supplies ($5,816), logistic support items ($25,100), and the continuation of current mine-clearance contracts ($187,000). The vehicles equipped two new demining companies for increased mine-clearance operations. Previous U.S. funding, now totaling more than $9,300,000, was used to purchase mine detectors and vehicles to help equip another demining company, as well as personal protection gear for all deminers.

U.S. assistance has also funded a national demining program infrastructure and a train-the-trainer program, conducted by U.S. military personnel. 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 the two U.S.-trained Yemeni demining companies. At the same time, mine-awareness and victim-assistance teams began educating the local populace on demining efforts, while locating and offering assistance to those 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.

Accomplishments
Yemen's Humanitarian Demining Program is producing visible results, and enjoys an exceptional reputation, locally and internationally. As of FY02, the program counted 812 fully trained personnel in specialty areas of mine survey, mine clearance, mine awareness, and victim assistance. The two U.S. military-trained demining companies, numbering 350 personnel, have cleared more than 19,020 landmines, 57,622 UXO, and 28 minefields, restoring more than 192 kilometers2 of land to productive use. A U.S. ophthalmology team has treated more than 100 landmine victims and simultaneously conducted medical training for local personnel.



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