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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

The Middle East


To Walk the Earth in Safety (2008)
Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
June 2008
Report
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Iraq

A Croatian-built Bozena mechanized mine-detection system is prepared for action in southern Iraq. [Col. Stu Harris, USMC ,Retired, / PM/WRA]
A Croatian-built Bozena mechanized mine-detection system is prepared for action in southern Iraq. [Col. Stu Harris, USMC (Retired) / PM/WRA]
Flag of Iraq is three equal horizontal bands of red at top, white, and black, with green Arabic script centered in white band.Iraq is one of the world’s most severely landmine and explosive-remnants-of-war (ERW) impacted countries. This is due to three decades of conflict, including internal placement of landmines during Saddam Hussein’s rule beginning with the 1980–1988 Iraq-Iran War, followed by the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. In addition, hundreds of cached and abandoned ordnance (AO) sites are believed to still exist throughout the country.

AO sites pose a hazard to nearby inhabitants in the event of tampering or spontaneous detonation. Terrorists and criminals often pilfer from abandoned ordnance sites to create improvised explosive devices and car bombs.

A partially buried V-69 bounding fragmentation mine emplaced by Saddam Hussein’s forces displays its prongs in a minefield in southern Iraq. [Col. Stu Harris, USMC ,Retired, / PM/WRA]
A partially buried V-69 bounding fragmentation mine emplaced by Saddam Hussein’s forces displays its prongs in a minefield in southern Iraq. [Col. Stu Harris, USMC (Retired) / PM/WRA]
In FY 2006 the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs granted $422,208 to MAG (Mines Advisory Group) to support six multi-skilled mine-action teams and one mechanical team, and five community liaison and mine risk education teams. Additionally, the United States’ Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund (IRRF) transferred $13,200,000 to PM/WRA to be used for humanitarian mine action operations in Iraq. Of these funds, MAG received $2,710,236, and the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (now Veterans for America) received $775,792 for various mine action projects. PM/WRA awarded $9,713,972, the remainder of the IRRF funds, to RONCO Consulting Corporation for clearance of ERW and mines.

In FY 2007, PM/WRA spent $15,149,446 on mine action and conventional weapons destruction in Iraq. These monies were awarded to the Iraq Mine/Unexploded Ordnance Organization and MAG to fund a combination of minefield and battle area clearance operations and explosive ordnance disposal/small arms and light weapons missions. It also supported the Information Management and Mine Action Program in ERW/mine survey and data management operations. In addition, funds were provided to the Montgomery Village Rotary International for the Basra-Iraq Prosthetics Project and to the United Nations Development Program–Iraq for its institutional development support. This program contributes to post-battle operations, improves the humanitarian environment for returning populations, especially children, and increases prospects for donor and Iraqi budget-funded economic development by clearing land for agricultural and other economic use.

Jordan

Flag of Jordan is three equal horizontal bands of black at top, white, and green, with a red isosceles triangle based on the hoist side bearing a small white seven-pointed star.In FY 2006, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs granted $236,300 to the National Committee for Demining and Rehabilitation to provide mine risk education (MRE) in Jordan. The primary objective of this grant is to support the technical and operational capacity of the MRE sector in Jordan through activities designed to help ensure that the individual skill sets, institutional capacity, and organizational network function properly to deliver quality MRE.

Two Bedouins on camels travel through a wadi, alongside the tracks of modern conveyances.  Jordan remains affected by landmines and explosive remnants of war to some degree in the Wadi Araba region, where this photo was taken, extending to Aqaba, as well as along its border with Syria, and in the Jordan Valley. [©iStockphoto.com/Arne Thaysen]
Two Bedouins on camels travel through a wadi, alongside the tracks of modern conveyances. Jordan remains affected by landmines and explosive remnants of war to some degree in the Wadi Araba region, where this photo was taken, extending to Aqaba, as well as along its border with Syria, and in the Jordan Valley. [©iStockphoto.com/Arne Thaysen]
Jordanian Army humanitarian deminers practice rendering first-responder trauma care and preparing to move a wounded deminer. [Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement]
Jordanian Army humanitarian deminers practice rendering first-responder trauma care and preparing to move a wounded deminer. [Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement]

Lebanon

An ARMTRAC 100 armored tractor with a flail, which was supplied to the Lebanese Armed Forces by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, clears a mined area near the “Blue Line” on Lebanon’s border with Israel. A strong wind is blowing the dust from the flailed earth ahead of the tractor. The road and the land to its right are in Israel. In the background, the Golan Heights dominated by Mount Hermon, are visible. [Dennis Hadrick, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement]
An ARMTRAC 100 armored tractor with a flail, which was supplied to the Lebanese Armed Forces by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, clears a mined area near the “Blue Line” on Lebanon’s border with Israel. A strong wind is blowing the dust from the flailed earth ahead of the tractor. The road and the land to its right are in Israel. In the background, the Golan Heights dominated by Mount Hermon, are visible. [Dennis Hadrick, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement]
Flag of Lebanon is three horizontal bands of red at top, double width white, and red with a green cedar tree centered in the white band.Landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) have contaminated much of Lebanon from the beginning of a civil war in 1975 through the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict during the summer of 2006. As a result of the ERW from this most recent conflict, South Lebanon and Nabatieh are the most ERW-affected regions in the country. A Landmine Impact Survey completed in 2003 estimated that 22 of 24 districts in Lebanon were impacted by landmines and unexploded ordnance, spanning 150 square kilometers. A National Level II (Technical) Survey is scheduled to resume in 2008 to acquire the most up-to-date picture of the landmine and ERW threat confronting Lebanon and to provide the essential data needed to remove the threat.

In FY 2006 the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs originally provided $1 million to Lebanon in humanitarian mine action (HMA) assistance through its contract with RONCO Consulting Corporation. After the conflict in the summer of 2006, PM/WRA identified $384,000 of that amount for RONCO to recruit, train, equip, and deploy two 25-person battle area clearance (BAC) teams to sweep for and mark unexploded cluster munitions and other ERW in South Lebanon.

Subsequently, the U.S. Department of Defense transferred $5 million to the U.S. Department of State for emergency HMA assistance. Of that sum, PM/WRA added $2.2 million to RONCO Consulting Corporation’s original contract to support the Lebanese Armed Forces, Engineering Regiment (ER) clearance of unexploded cluster munitions and other ERW in South Lebanon. PM/WRA granted the remaining $2.8 million to MAG (Mines Advisory Group) to recruit, train, equip, and deploy a 15-person BAC team in South Lebanon and to fund additional clearance operations by four MAG BAC teams that were already there. MAG had previously received an initial emergency grant for $420,000 from PM/WRA to establish the management infrastructure necessary to conduct rapid-response clearance of ERW, including unexploded cluster munitions in South Lebanon.

PM/WRA also granted $30,000 in support of the U.N. Joint Logistics Center for cluster munitions strike data collection and mapping capability in Lebanon, through its partnership with the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (now the Veterans for America). PM/WRA used the remaining funds of its RONCO contract ($616,000) to provide technical assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces, Engineering Regiment. The funds were used for fuel and maintenance for ER vehicles, support for the ER mine-detecting dogs, additional personal protective equipment, and other items to equip and support 50 new Lebanese deminers.

In FY 2006, the Department of State’s Bureau of International Organization Affairs provided $2 million to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to sustain the operations of UNDP-controlled explosive-clearance teams provided by MAG and by BACTEC International Limited in South Lebanon.

In FY 2007, PM/WRA awarded $1 million to DynCorp International to continue to develop the Lebanese Mine Action Center (LMAC) to integrate all aspects of HMA effectively, continue to assist the LMAC with the management of a quality program, continue to provide equipment, as well as fuel and maintenance for its mine action vehicles, continue to introduce new HMA technologies, complete a Level II (Technical) Survey of all suspected minefields, and to mark all minefields found by the Level II Survey. In addition, PM/WRA granted $56,417 to the Marshall Legacy Institute to provide six trained mine detecting dogs to the Lebanese mine action authorities by spring 2008.

In FY 2006, the U.S. Agency for International Development awarded a grant of $1.2 million to MAG for emergency unexploded ordnance and battle area clearance in South Lebanon. Through its Leahy War Victims Fund, the U.S. Agency for International Development contributed $35,000 in FY 2006 to promote the development and implementation of programs to decrease landmine injuries, assist survivors of landmines and war, alleviate social burden, and foster economic opportunities within and around impacted communities.

In FY 2006, the U.S. Department of Defense’s Humanitarian Demining Program contributed $7,000 to advance ERW/HMA in Lebanon. To learn more about the U.S. Department of Defense’s Humanitarian Demining Program, visit www.humanitariandemining.org and www.wood.army.mil/hdtc.

Tunisia

Flag of Tunisia: Red star on a red crescent in a white circle centered on a red background.In FY 2006, the U.S. Department of Defense’s Humanitarian Demining Program (DoD HDP) contributed $3,000 to advance humanitarian mine action in Tunisia. In FY 2007, DoD HDP contributed $117,000 more to strengthen Tunisia’s national capacity to deal with landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW), most of which remain from World War II, and to support ERW/mine clearance. DoD’s Humanitarian Demining Training Center provided $97,000 of that FY 2007 assistance in “Train-the-Trainer” support to Tunisian deminers. To learn more about the U.S. Department of Defense’s Humanitarian Demining Program, visit www.humanitariandemining.org and www.wood.army.mil/hdtc.

Axis and Allied forces both used landmines to defend against attacks during the World War II campaigns in Egypt’s Western Desert, Libya, and Tunisia. Many of those persistent mines as well as explosive remnants of war continue to pose a threat to this day. Here, a U.S. soldier sits in the turret of a captured Tiger I tank, somewhere on the Tunisian battlefront during World War II. [United States Army/Public Domain Photo]
Axis and Allied forces both used landmines to defend against attacks during the World War II campaigns in Egypt’s Western Desert, Libya, and Tunisia. Many of those persistent mines as well as explosive remnants of war continue to pose a threat to this day. Here, a U.S. soldier sits in the turret of a captured Tiger I tank, somewhere on the Tunisian battlefront during World War II. [United States Army/Public Domain Photo]
1st Infantry Division dig foxholes and slit trenches south of El Guettar, Tunisia during World War II. [© RKO Photos/Owens Archive]
1st Infantry Division dig foxholes and slit trenches south of El Guettar, Tunisia during World War II. [© RKO Photos/Owens Archive]

Yemen

A formation of Yemeni humanitarian deminers. [Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement]
A formation of Yemeni humanitarian deminers. [Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement]
Flag of Yemen is three equal horizontal bands of red at top, white, and black.Landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) in Yemen continue to pose some degree of danger to farmers in the former border areas between North and South Yemen and in the southern governorates, hindering access to land for agriculture, which is the primary source of income for over 50 percent of the population. Yemen’s mine and ERW contamination is a result of several conflicts from 1962 to 1994. The former border areas between North and South Yemen in the southern governorates have been affected the most. A Landmine Impact Survey, funded in part by the United States and completed in 2000, reported 592 villages in 19 of the 20 governorates in Yemen to be impacted by mines and unexploded ordnance at the time. Subsequent humanitarian mine action assistance by the United States has provided the Yemen Executive Mine Action Centre (YEMAC) with vehicles and equipment to achieve its vision to become self-sufficient and make Yemen free from the humanitarian impact of mines and UXO (“impact free”) by 2009.

In FY 2006, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs contributed $700,000 towards mine action in Yemen. These funds were used to purchase numerous pieces of equipment to help reorganize two demining companies of the Yemeni Armed Forces. Some of the equipment included mine detectors, personal protective equipment, such as face shields and armor aprons, and a four-wheel drive ambulance.

In FY 2007, PM/WRA provided $375,000 in demining equipment and vehicles to replace old or worn-out equipment for the Yemen Mine Action Program.

In FY 2007, the Department of Defense’s Humanitarian Demining Research and Development Program provided the Improved Backhoe, a value of $157,000, to the YEMAC for an operational field evaluation of its sifting capabilities. To learn more about the U.S. Department of Defense’s Humanitarian Demining Program, visit www.humanitariandemining.org and www.wood.army.mil/hdtc.



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