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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action Programs: Europe


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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EUROPE

ALBANIA

Flag of AlbaniaThe Landmine Problem

The Albanian Mine Action Executive (AMAE), the demining coordination agency of the Government of Albania, estimates that mines placed by Serb and Kosovar Albanian forces before and during the Kosovo conflict affect almost 14,000,000 square meters of land. Some 36 kilometers in the Kukes and Hasi Districts appear to have been mined within 300-400 meters of the border with Kosovo, and 18 of 24 kilometers of the country's border territory in the Tropoja District are suspected of landmine contamination. In addition, reports indicate that mines are located in the Bajram Curri District on the border with Montenegro and Kosovo, and other unrecorded minefields were emplaced in border regions during the Cold War by past regimes. Presently, there is no way to accurately assess the quantity of landmines in these respective areas. Unexploded ordnance (UXO) is also a problem as a result of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization bombing campaign in the spring of 1999. The Government of Albania also includes in its UXO problem some 13 "hot spots," former military ammunition storage depots, but the quantities of UXO at these locations are also unknown. Since the beginning of 1999, landmines and UXO have inflicted at least 225 casualties, with more than 20 victims dying from their wounds.

United States Assistance

The United States provides humanitarian mine action assistance to Albania primarily through the International Trust Fund (ITF) for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance located in Slovenia. Since the inception of the program in FY00, the United States has contributed $5,566,000 to support Albanian mine action activities. In FY02, $326,110 was contributed to support mine clearance efforts in partnership with a corresponding Swiss donation, and in FY03, the United States provided $1,416,926 to fund mine action assistance to Albania through the ITF.

Accomplishments

Mine risk education and mine clearance programs are largely responsible for a sharp decrease in landmine and UXO casualties. Demining operations commenced in early June 2000, with commercial demining teams from Bosnia working on AMAE-assigned priority demining tasks. By November 2002, the project cleared 104,576 square meters of land and removed 480 UXO and 491 mines. In September 2002, Danish Church Aid also began clearance operations and removed 1,588 mines, cleared 24,136 square meters of land and surveyed six million square meters of land to be returned to the local population. In addition to clearance efforts, U.S. funds enabled the ITF to arrange for the rehabilitation of 21 Albanian mine victims at the Institute for Rehabilitation of Slovenia. An additional 30 victims received care at the Institute by the end of 2003.

EUROPE

ARMENIA

Flag of ArmeniaThe Landmine Problem

The war between Armenia and Azerbaijan from 1988-1994 is the primary source of Armenia's landmine problem. The Government of Armenia (GOA) estimates that between 80,000 and 100,000 mines contaminate its soil. This number includes active minefields along the line of contact in the sparsely populated Tavush region in the northeast that are still being maintained for defensive purposes. While the GOA has stressed that the most severe landmine problems are in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, problems also exist in the southeast, in the Syunik region along the now peaceful border between Armenia and Armenian-occupied Azerbaijani territory. This region, which includes the cities of Goris and Kapan, has suffered at least 40-50 civilian landmine-related deaths and injuries in the last seven years. According to the GOA, approximately 1,800 to 2,500 square kilometers of land are known or suspected to be mine-affected. In addition, the GOA suspects that there is unexploded ordnance (UXO) along border areas, in and around villages, in agricultural areas, pastures and forests and along roads and bridges.

United States Assistance

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2002, the United States provided $4,441,000 in humanitarian mine action assistance to Armenia, a portion of which was used by the U.S. Department of State contractor RONCO Consulting Corporation to train the newly established Armenian Humanitarian Demining Center (AHDC) in the operation and management of a national humanitarian mine action program. In FY03, the United States provided Armenia with another $250,000 in humanitarian mine action aid. This funding was used to build on the infrastructure established in the previous year. The funds provided for training and equipping the first demining company, medical technicians, a mine detecting dog (MDD) section, and effectively integrating the MDDs into survey and clearance operations.

Due to the GOA's firm commitment to address its landmine problem, in 2002 the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan provided $1,800,000 of its Freedom Support Act funds that were used to augment the existing demining program, assist the GOA to establish a National Demining Training Center and purchase a mechanical vegetation removal/area reduction system. U.S. military personnel trained and equipped a second Armenian demining company and medical section and have provided advanced training in management, mine risk education, UXO identification and destruction and information management. In addition, 178 deminers, medics, MDD handlers and staff personnel were trained and equipped.

Accomplishments

AHDC began its first mine clearance operation in September 2002 in the Tavush Region. Armenian deminers surveyed and marked more than 700,000 square meters of land in a village that was heavily shelled during the country's internal conflict. In February 2003, the United States, assisted by the Armenian Demining Cadre, began training a second demining company, an MDD section and four additional medics. Armenia also completed five months of mine risk education training in the areas of product development, survey and market analysis. AHDC also received an Armored Personnel Carrier-mounted flail for mechanical demining and has begun to train operators and mechanics.

EUROPE

AZERBAIJAN

Flag of AzerbaijanThe Landmine Problem

The conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region in 1988-1994, and other Azerbaijani land that Armenian troops held, left Azerbaijan with a landmine and an unexploded ordnance (UXO) problem. The UN estimates that landmines and UXO affect 604 square kilometers of liberated Azerbaijani land in 64 villages in 11 affected districts. Although no accurate estimate of the total number of landmines is available, the International Committee of the Red Cross believes that there are 50,000 mines just in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. A cease-fire has been maintained since 1994. The Government of Azerbaijan has decided that the internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the regions of Fizuli and Agdam, which Azerbaijan reclaimed shortly before the ceasefire, should return home. Many of the 800,000 IDPs have already returned, but they run the risk of injury, primarily from UXO, as the landmine threat is secondary. Yet landmine contamination seriously constrains the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts of the Government and international agencies. The Director of the Azerbaijan Agency for National Mine Action (ANAMA) has stated that, since 1998, landmines have caused 1,400 casualties to soldiers and civilians, including 300 fatalities, in 11 war-torn districts. There were 18 mine incidents registered during 2003 that resulted in 28 casualties, 14 of whom died.

United States Assistance

The United States has contributed over $11,088,000 to the humanitarian mine action program in Azerbaijan. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2003, the U.S. Department of State allocated $1.6 million in continued support for ANAMA's operations, including funds for additional equipment and mine detecting dog (MDD) support. A U.S. Department of State contractor, RONCO Consulting Corporation, helped the Government to establish a national mine action capacity, including a national MDD capability within the ANAMA infrastructure. The funds provided for maintaining the current operational capacity of Relief Azerbaijan and the national demining NGO; training and deploying a new survey team and an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team; developing and deploying the national Monitoring and Training Team; and integrating the MDDs with survey and clearance operations. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) conducted demining, EOD, mine risk education and program management training during separate missions between 2002-2004. During this period, the DoD also contributed to the Government of Azerbaijan's national effort with the partial development of two regional Mine Action Facilities in Horadiz and Khanlar, including ANAMA's training center at Horadiz. The United States Corps of Engineers managed the DoD reconstruction efforts.

The Government has expressed a firm commitment to address the landmine problem, and to maintain an effective organization capable of implementing a national demining policy and priorities. As a result of this commitment, in FY02, the U.S. Embassy in Baku provided $1,100,000 of its Freedom Support Act funds to augment the existing demining program. A total of 100 deminers, as well as a second demining company, medics, MDD handlers and staff personnel, have been trained and equipped.

Accomplishments

According to ANAMA reports, since July 2000, a total of more than 7 million square meters of land have been cleared. Of this, almost 70,000 square meters were the routes of power lines, 200,000 square meters were irrigation canals and water pipe routes, 5,200 square meters were roads. 778,000 square meters were housing areas and the remaining 6,000,000 square meters were for agriculture. More than 100,000 people directly benefited from the operations, and they are continuing to benefit from the land, infrastructure and houses that have been made safe for use.

Training for the MDD program continues successfully. U.S. assistance has funded the training of more than 100 Azerbaijani deminers and, in conjunction with the United Nations Children's Fund, a program of mine awareness instruction for 800 teachers, 500 medical personnel and 200 representatives from public organizations. Community-based mine risk education has reached 13 communities throughout 10 districts and has spread the message of safe behavior rules to local populations. In 2003, Department of Defense-sponsored, ANAMA-executed mine risk education training took place in more than four regions in 10 villages, involved the Executive Powers of eight governed areas and informed more than 300 IDPs and residents of the hazards of landmines and UXO in surrounding areas. ANAMA is currently developing all components of mine action in order to acquire a national, sustainable capability for humanitarian demining that includes an infrastructure to support the return of IDPs to their homes. The Regional Training Center at Fizuli is operational, and is being used to expand national demining efforts. In 2002, U.S.-trained mine clearing personnel focused on clearing those areas with vineyards, a move that is expected to help Azerbaijan restore its war-torn economy. Azerbaijan's landmine problem is still significant, however, and will continue to require U.S. support.

EUROPE

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

Flag of Bosnia-HerzegovinaThe Landmine Problem

Bosnia-Herzegovina has a substantial landmine problem, the result of the five-year civil war that broke apart Yugoslavia. The Bosnia-Herzegovina Mine Action Center (BHMAC) has records for more than 18,000 minefields and believes landmines and an undetermined quantity of unexploded ordnance (UXO) contaminate an estimated 4,200 square kilometers of land. Heavy concentrations of landmines are found in regions where ethnic conflict occurred, particularly along front-line areas that shifted during the course of the war, and along the Inter-Entity Boundary Line separating the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska—the two constituent political entities of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Combatants mined road networks, power plants, bridges, dams and other infrastructure components. In 2002, landmine/UXO incidents killed 26 civilians and injured 46 others, including 19 children. Landmines and UXO continued to cause casualties in 2003, with 13 civilians killed and 14 injured as of May 9, 2003. Currently, the International Committee of the Red Cross database contains information on 4,798 landmine/UXO casualties since 1992, of which 927 were killed and 3,871 injured.

United States Assistance

The United States has supported demining activities in Bosnia-Herzegovina since FY96, with total expenditures through Fiscal Year (FY) 2003 amounting to more than $58,114,000. The U.S. Department of Defense played a critical role in establishing training centers in each of the three Entity areas and trained cadre members and staff. By the end of 1998, however, when the U.S. Congress established a separate fund for mine action in the Balkans, all funding shifted to the International Trust Fund (ITF) for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance, based in Slovenia. In FY03, the United States contributed $3,460,000 for demining activities, and the establishment in Bosnia-Herzegovina of a regional Mine Detection Dog Center for South East Europe (MDDC-SEE). In addition, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have contributed over $500,000 for the social reintegration of survivors of landmine injuries and other forms of traumatic limb loss. The project, conducted by the U.S. non-governmental organization (NGO), Landmine Survivors Network, began on September 15, 2003 and will continue for five years. The program includes vocational training; job placement; improvement and evaluation of existing educational materials; methods of improving outreach services; and direct assistance and linkage to care and service providers to provide social reintegration of survivors of landmine injuries and other forms of traumatic limb loss through peer support.

Another major U.S. project included a collaborative effort with the European Union and the ITF to fund a Landmine Impact Survey for the BHMAC. This survey, designed to assist Bosnian mine action authorities in the prioritization of clearance tasks and the allocation of resources to accomplish them, was conducted by U.S.-trained and -equipped local demining NGOs.

Accomplishments

A national mine action center established in Sarajevo under UN auspices, a mine clearance training school at Brus, and three 80-man humanitarian demining groups based at Banja Luka, Tuzla and Mostar, have contributed to the success of the humanitarian mine action program in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The United States, using RONCO Consulting Corporation-provided humanitarian demining trainers, conducted a training program, and provided necessary demining equipment for 450 military deminers representing the three Entity Armies. The United States also provided necessary demining training and equipment for civilian deminers in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and turned over control of the three civilian demining groups to Bosnian national mine authorities in 1997. In terms of mine risk education, collaboration among the United States, DC Comics and the United Nations Children's Fund to distribute a special edition of the Superman comic book devoted to this subject contributed to the reduction of the number of landmine victims throughout the country.

Since 1999, U.S.-sponsored efforts removed or destroyed more than 21,052 landmines and UXO devices. Accomplishments in 2003 included the clearing of 92 separate minefields, freeing up 3,599,266 square meters of land for refugee and internally displaced person resettlement, infrastructure repair, economic development, the completion of a Landmine Impact Survey and the beginning of the process of integrating data into a system for use in the 2004 demining season. In addition, 83 mine victims received treatment at the Slovenian Rehabilitation Institute in FY03.

EUROPE

CROATIA

Flag of CroatiaThe Landmine Problem

Croatia has a serious landmine problem stemming from its 1991-1995 war with the Yugoslav Federation. It is estimated that landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) contaminate almost a tenth of Croatian territory. The Croatian Mine Action Center (CROMAC) estimates that minefields cover approximately 1,700 square kilometers of land. The mine-affected areas run the length of the country, roughly paralleling the lines of confrontation between Croatian and Serbian forces during the war. From 1991 through December 2000, the Croatian Center for Demining recorded 1,320 landmine incidents that killed 365 and wounded 1,281, and many of these wounded required amputations. Casualty estimates also indicate that mines and UXO killed nearly 300 children and injured even more.

United States Assistance

Since Fiscal Year (FY) 1999, the United States has provided more than $14,082,000 in humanitarian mine action assistance to Croatia. The first U.S.-provided assistance supported the Return Assistance Program through contracts awarded to local demining firms, with the assistance of the UN Mine Action Center in Croatia. This U.S. policy initiative, designed to facilitate reconstruction, rehabilitation, and reconciliation efforts in Croatia, provided mine clearance assistance to municipalities, thereby encouraging thereturn of ethnic minorities and other displaced persons. Demining work funded by U.S. contributions was contracted by the International Trust Fund (ITF) for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance, in coordination with the CROMAC. In FY 2003, the United States provided an additional $1,779,000 in ITF funds to Croatia for demining activities and the completion of a technical survey conducted by Norwegian People's Aid.

Accomplishments

Since 1999, U.S.-funded demining projects in Croatia have returned nearly 3,500,000 square meters of land to safe use, and destroyed more than 800 mines and 300 items of UXO. The United States has also financed the development of a locally manufactured remote-controlled mini-mine flail vehicle and, in a funding partnership with the U.S. non-governmental organization, Roots of Peace, and its U.S. winemaker backers, has earmarked donations to the ITF for the clearance of mines in the country's grape-growing regions. Both projects have had significant economic, as well as humanitarian, benefits. A mine risk education program, begun in FY99, seems to be having a positive effect.

EUROPE

ESTONIA

Flag of EstoniaThe Landmine Problem

Although Estonia's landmine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) problem dates back to World War I, the majority of UXO on the ground today date from World War II. In addition, caches of buried UXO are found on a routine basis during planned demining/excavations, as well as in newly constructed building projects both in cities and in the countryside. While it is difficult to estimate the exact number of landmines, Estonian authorities believe that the quantity of UXO is in the hundreds of thousands. Since 1992, the Government of Estonia has reported finding thousands of pieces of UXO and landmines in its territory, mostly in the Narva region in the northeast (an area of about 20 square kilometers has a particularly heavy concentration), in the Voru region, and along the Emajogi River in the east-central Tatu region, where large battles occurred in 1944. In 2002, one civilian was killed and seven others injured in UXO incidents.

United States Assistance

Estonia received $235,000 in U.S. funds in FY03 for equipment, technical support, vehicles, diving supplies and maintenance support. Funding from previous years has allowed the Government of Estonia to procure demining equipment and personal protective equipment for deminers; provide training; develop a UXO/mine risk education program; and expand demining/UXO clearance operations to allow establishment of a training center in Tartu where U.S. military personnel conducted a "Train-the-Trainer" program to International Mine Action Standards (IMAS). U.S military trainers conducted three humanitarian mine action "Train-the-Trainer" missions from 1999-2000. Twenty-seven U.S.-trained Estonian personnel are now competent to conduct meticulous, safe humanitarian demining in accordance with IMAS.

Accomplishments

Beginning in 2000, the Government of Estonia's Self-Defense Board, an organization with experience in demining that now possesses modern equipment, training and organization, has been conducting proactive, rather than reactive, landmine and UXO clearance operations. Since 1992, Estonia has cleared more than 116.55 square kilometers of farmland, returning it to productive use, and destroyed nearly 27,500 pieces of UXO. In addition, with U.S. assistance, Estonia was able to complete UXO clearance of the Pakri Islands (46.62 square kilometers), and declare them safe for public recreation.

EUROPE

GEORGIA

Flag of GeorgiaThe Landmine Problem

The landmine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) problem in Georgia stems primarily from the conflict in the Abkhazia region of the country in 1992-1994. Ongoing partisan activity in some parts of Abkhazia also contributes to the problem. According to the Ministry of Defense of the Government of Georgia (GOG), between 20,000 and 70,000 mines are in the soil, contaminating approximately 18,500,000 square meters of land in Abkhazia, and 220,000 square meters of land in the rest of the country. The majority of the mines are located in Abkhazia in northwestern Georgia. The remainder are in the South Ossetia/Tskivani region in north-central Georgia; the former Soviet ammunition storage facility in Osiauri in eastern Georgia (an estimated 2,000 mines); Kopitnari Air Base in western Georgia (an estimated 1,000 mines); Omal; Shenako; areas near Georgia's northern border with Chechnya; and parts of the Georgia-Armenia and Georgia-Azerbaijan borders. Many of these mines are located around former Soviet and present Russian military bases. Others are in minefields adjacent to or collocated with residential, agricultural and grazing areas, posing a serious danger to both people and livestock. The GOG estimates there are approximately 15,000 items of UXO present, mainly in Orfilo in the Akhaltsikhe region in southern Georgia and at the former Russian military base at Vaziani, under Georgian control as of July 1, 2001. Mines and UXO restrict the operations of aid agencies, hinder efforts to rebuild Georgia's shattered infrastructure, and undermine tourism, the former economic mainstay of the country. In 2002, 70 new landmine/UXO casualties were recorded.

United States Assistance

A U.S.-funded HALO Trust mine risk education session in a Georgian classroom.  The instructor is holding a photo of a rusty but still lethal anti-vehicle mine on a beach.  It is important that mine risk education materials include depictions of how landmines and UXO are likely to look in field conditions, where they may be partially hidden—if visible at all—and weathered.In FY03, the United States allocated $1.05 million to Georgia for operations in the Abkhazia region conducted by the non-governmental organization, The Hazardous Area Life-Support Organization (HALO) Trust. Funding in previous years went to continue support of The HALO Trust's mine clearance operations, and to purchase mine detectors, personal protective equipment and vehicles. Since 1998, the United States has provided more than $582,600 for humanitarian mine action in Georgia.

Accomplishments

In 2000, during a unique U.S. Department of State-inspired initiative ("The Beecroft Initiative"), U.S. military personnel conducted a one-time Humanitarian Mine Action Confidence and Security Building Measure event. Georgia hosted this critical event, allowing the Department of Defense to provide training and equipment to a total of 45 Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijani deminers who could then conduct manual demining operations in compliance with International Mine Action Standards. The training also included emergency medical treatment and communications. The HALO Trust mine clearance operations from April 1, 2002 to March 31, 2003 in Ochamchire Province have resulted in the manual or mechanical clearance of 279,916 square meters of land, and the destruction of 409 landmines and 823 pieces of UXO. Since 1997, The HALO Trust also conducted mine risk education briefings to more than 52,000 people. Overall, since 1997, The HALO Trust has cleared more than 4,594 mines and 3,405 pieces of UXO, returned 936,891 square meters of land and briefed 52,000 people on mine risk education. The HALO Trust reports that their efforts have significantly reduced Abkhaz civilian casualties, from 50-60 per year in 1994 to approximately 12 per year currently.

EUROPE

MACEDONIA

Flag of MacedoniaThe Landmine Problem

Macedonia has a small landmine problem along its border with Kosovo, resulting from the 1999 conflict between Serbian military and police forces and Albanian Kosovar forces. Serbs planted the mines in this territory to block access to routes, and to forestall possible ground attacks by NATO forces supporting the Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army. A number of known but unmarked minefields are located in the mountains along the border with Kosovo, but Macedonian border guards fear that additional landmines may exist in the area, posing a threat not only to their patrolling activities, but also to local civilians and their livestock. A more pressing UXO problem exists as a consequence of a conflict in early 2001 between the Macedonian Army and indigenous ethnic-Albanian forces. The fighting had ceased by August, and in early September, a combined team of representatives from the U.S. Department of State, the International Trust Fund (ITF) for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance and the Macedonian Government conducted an assessment of the situation. The results of the contamination assessment confirmed that the main problem areas were concentrated in the north/northwestern regions of the country. U.S. humanitarian mine assistance to Macedonia commenced in October 2001.

United States Assistance

Macedonian humanitarian deminers clear a railroad track.  In the foreground, a mine detecting dog searches for the scent of explosive in a possible mine as his handler carefully observes him.Since October 2001, the United States has provided $1,602,000 in mine action assistance to Macedonia through the ITF. Almost $400,000 was expended to fund six Bosnian demining teams to conduct emergency clearance work. In addition, the United States also made in-kind contributions of demining equipment valued at approximately $500,000, consisting of vehicles, metal detectors, radios, medical gear, a computer and other office equipment. In FY03, the United States contributed $96,500 for use by local Battle Area Clearance (BAC) demining teams working in the country.

Accomplishments

The training of a Macedonian clearance cadre of more than 60 personnel, including 16 explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) specialists schooled at the EOD Center in Slovenia, was completed in July 2002. The teams were trained in demining, BAC, EOD and demolitions and began actual operations in the field on September 30, 2002.

EUROPE

SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO

Flag of Serbia and MontenegroThe Landmine Problem

Serbia and Montenegro are affected by unexploded ordnance (UXO) and landmines, including some UXO in key waterways. The United Nations (UN)-administered international protectorate of Kosovo has had a serious landmine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) problem as a result of its civil war with greater Serbia in 1999, and the subsequent NATO air strikes against Serbian military and internal security forces located in the province. The UN identified approximately 800 mine-affected areas and more than 300 UXO sites in Kosovo and along the borders with Albania and Macedonia. According to the UN, as of July 2004, UXO and landmines had killed 107 and injured 398 people in Kosovo. Kosovo continued to be administered under the civil authority of the UN Interim Administrative Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1244.

Left Above-Cover of the Albanian-language version of the mine risk education comic book developed by DC Comics for Kosovo, drawing on findings from past projects and surveys conducted in refugee camps in Albania and Macedonia.  First distributed in 1999 to returning ethnic-Albanian Kosovar refugees. Left Below-Page from the DC Comics Albanian-language mine risk education comic book depicting local Kosovar children and Superman discussing the perils and indicators of danger in areas affected by landmines and UXO.

United States Assistance

Since FY99, the United States has allocated more than $28,650,000 in humanitarian demining assistance to Serbia and Montenegro and Kosovo. This assistance has included mine risk education for Kosovar refugees prior to their return from camps in Albania and Macedonia and emergency demining operations province-wide. It has also funded UXO clearance operations that focused primarily on dud-fired cluster bomb submunitions that posed the major threat to the civilian population. In 1999 and 2000, with support from the U.S. Department of State and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), DC Comics Superman mine risk education comic books in Albanian and Serbian, funded by the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency, were distributed to returning refugees and used in schools. In FY03, $832,500 was provided for battle area clearance activities, excavation/defusing of big bombs and mine risk education in Kosovo.

Accomplishments

Landmine and UXO clearance operations were conducted at schools, houses, roads, agricultural areas, water pipelines, irrigation channels, power lines and a customs post for the UN on the Albania-Kosovo border. U.S. assistance also helped to equip the UN Mine Action Coordination Center and supported mine awareness programs sponsored by UNICEF and other non-governmental organizations. These operations have made life safer for the Kosovar population, and were particularly crucial in helping thousands of returning refugees prepare for the harsh living conditions during the winter of 1999 in this war-torn province.

U.S.-funded demining teams were responsible for the clearing of almost 4,900,000 square meters of land and destroying 54 mines and more than 4,600 cluster bomb submunitions and other UXO immediately following the 1999 war. Although UNMIK declared all known minefields and cluster munitions in Kosovo to have been cleared "by internationally accepted standards" at the end of the 2001 demining season, new discoveries of UXO and landmines continue to be reported. The task of eliminating the residual threat was turned over to local Kosovar demining forces under UN supervision. The local deminers receive training and additional supervision from international non-governmental organizations.

On February 14, 2002, the Mine Action Center Belgrade opened with the help of the United States, the International Trust Fund (ITF) for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance, the Government of Serbia and Montenegro and other donors. Technical survey teams have worked throughout the country to identify four regions with priority status: the Belgrade City Center, Batajnica, Zvezdara and Avala, in addition to the Ni� Airport. Clearance operations of these areas began in spring 2003. Initial clearance of the Ni� Airport allowed operations to resume and spurred economic development. On September 24, 2002, the Regional Center for Underwater Demining in Montenegro was also established. Ten diving experts have undergone underwater explosive ordnance disposal training at the Center so far. These teams have located large amounts of UXO in the Veriege Strait and in the Danube and Sava Rivers. The Center has also trained underwater humanitarian demining teams from seven countries.



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