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Diplomacy in Action

Appendix A: Quick Reaction Demining Force


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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Photo of Quick Reaction Demining Force in Sri LankaHumanitarian crises, whether man-made or the aftermath of a natural disaster, particularly crises in which landmines are involved, may occur without warning and require an immediate response. Examples of such crises include Hurricane Mitch that struck Central America in 1998, the rapid, post air-war return of refugees to mine-infested Kosovo in 1999, and tropical cyclones Hudah and Eline that ravaged Mozambique in 2000, displacing thousands of landmines. To respond to such emergency situations quickly and efficiently, the United States, in 2001, developed a Quick Reaction Demining Force (QRDF).

The U.S.-funded QRDF is home-based in Mozambique. The force is deployed to demining crisis situations as directed by the U.S. Government, which oversees recruitment, provision of equipment, training, and supervision of QRDF personnel within and outside the Republic of Mozambique. The United States has also established an independent management unit in Maputo to manage QRDF operations in coordination with Mozambican authorities. When QRDF teams are not deployed, they perform demining missions in Mozambique, in response to requests from that government.

The QRDF consists of four 10-man demining teams and associated support infrastructure. The organization is able to respond immediately to short-term, pre-defined demining missions. The QRDF incorporates proved demining procedures, including the use of MDDs, and is equipped with demining-specific tools and materials. Once deployed, the teams locate, identify, map, record, and destroy landmines, UXO, and improvised explosive devices found in the areas designated for clearance.

In April 2002, the QRDF responded to crisis situations in Sri Lanka and Sudan. The deployment to Sri Lanka was in response to the Government of Sri Lanka's request for assistance to resettle some 200,000 IDPs who had to travel through heavily mined areas in the Vanni and Killinochchi regions and in the Jaffna Peninsula. The QRDF deployment provided an on-site demining capability until the UN could begin the program of assistance, demonstrating the U.S. Government's continuing support for efforts to bring peace to Sri Lanka. QRDF operations began in early May 2002 in the key village of Sarasalai, about 15 kilometers from Jaffna, where Tamil civilians, taking advantage of the ceasefire, were returning to their homes and fields. As of early August 2002, the QRDF teams had returned 32,500 meters2 of land to safe use in the Jaffna area, destroying 621 mines and 60 UXO devices in the process.

The QRDF deployment to Sudan supported the recently concluded ceasefire between the Government of the Sudan and the SPLM/A, overseen by the internationally led Joint Military Commission in which the United States plays a significant role. The Govern-ment of Sudan believes that between 1989 and February 2002, 1,160 persons became mine victims in the Nuba Mountains region. QRDF mine-clearance operations will lessen the likelihood of additional casualties as refugees and IDPs begin to relocate to areas where mines are known to exist and into other areas suspected of being mined.



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