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Diplomacy in Action

Introduction


To Walk the Earth in Safety: The U.S. Commitment to Humanitarian Mine Action
Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
August 2004
Report
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This fifth edition of To Walk the Earth in Safety contains information on specific programs and accomplishments of the U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action Program through the end of 2003. Although the United States did begin providing substantial mine action assistance to Afghanistan as early as 1988 and then to Cambodia and some other countries starting in 1991, the formal program as we know it today really began in 1993. Thus, 2003 is a milestone, marking ten uninterrupted years of genuine and significant U.S. action to eradicate persistent landmines—both anti-personnel and anti-vehicle—as well as unexploded ordnance wherever they threaten civilian populations or deny them access to their land, homes, markets, schools, churches, and hospitals.

Throughout this past decade, the United States has been by far the largest humanitarian mine action donor, having contributed between one third and one half of all of the money invested worldwide on this cause. The evidence of our commitment is exhibited in this fifth report. This edition describes accomplishments and achievements in our mine action program in 40 countries and regions.

We have achieved much in the last ten years, and have registered real successes in many countries plagued by landmines, countries that experienced hundreds, and in some cases even thousands of injuries and casualties annually.

In order to qualify for mine action assistance from the United States, countries must have a strategic plan with goals, objectives and a clearly defined end state. Building indigenous capacity and identifying the high impact mine affected areas are also critical elements of a successful national mine action program.

After more than a decade of living with landmines, Djibouti was declared mine-safe in January 2004, thanks to U.S. assistance. We began assisting Zambia in 2000, and anticipate that it will soon have an indigenous, sustainable demining capability. Thailand has been receiving U.S. mine action assistance since 1998, and is now able to set an example as the regional leader in humanitarian mine action. With help from the United States and the OAS, Costa Rica is now mine-safe. In 2003, the United States initiated a major humanitarian mine action program in Iraq, and we are also evaluating requests to help start or reinforce programs in other mine-affected nations.

Through bilateral assistance and encouragement of the participation of civil society, via innovative public-private partnerships, we will continue to invest in those countries deserving our aid and assistance in their fight against the humanitarian threats posed by persistent landmines. Humanitarian mine action is in accord with America's core values: respect for life, caring in the face of human suffering, support for economic independence and self-sufficiency and concern for animals. Therefore, we, along with all other donor nations, must make every effort to assist those landmine-plagued nations in establishing an indigenous, self-sufficient and sustainable humanitarian mine action program.

Lincoln P. Bloomfield, Jr.
Special Representative of the President
and Secretary of State for Mine Action, and
Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs



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