The African continent covers about 30.2 million square kilometers (11.7 million square miles). It is home to around 15 percent of the world’s population. Although Africa has abundant natural resources, it is the poorest continent in the world. There are many reasons for this, including the numerous tribal and military wars that have injured, killed or displaced millions of civilians as a result of landmines and explosive remnants of war.
Angola’s landmine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) problem is a product of four decades of continuous conflict, beginning with a war of independence in the 1960s and followed by a 30-year civil war, rendering the country extremely hazardous. Landmines and UXO prevent the normalization of daily life by creating an obstacle to humanitarian assistance and slowing the country’s economic recovery. Across all 18 provinces, the socioeconomic impact on Angolan communities was assessed during a Landmine Impact Survey; results confirmed that mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) affect more than 2 million people in 1,968 villages. Moreover, Angola has an estimated 2 million at-risk, military-type small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) in civilian hands and many more in unsecured government stockpiles.
Since 2002, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political- Military Affairs (PM/WRA) has spent more than $3 million to help Angola destroy surplus weapons and ammunition, and provided a total of $69,651,647 in humanitarian mine action and SA/LW support through FY2009.
In FY2009, PM/WRA contributed $6.23 million in humanitarian mine-action support to Angola, resulting in the clearance of 900 kilometers of road and more than 1.2 million square meters of land. This figure includes the following activities:
• MAG (Mines Advisory Group): $1,373,773 to clear 460,000 square meters of land and conduct 400 explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) emergency response missions
• Norwegian People’s Aid: $1,426,721 to clear 700,000 square meters, reduce 80 suspected hazardous areas, and complete 120 EOD emergency response missions
• The HALO Trust (HALO): $3,430,000 to clear 36 hectares and another 504,000 square meters of land, 400 kilometers of road, and survey/re-survey 200 sites
• HALO: $1,083,000 for three Weapons and Ammunition Destruction (WAD) teams to destroy up to 60,000 weapons and 180 tons of munitions
In addition, the U.S. Department of Defense’s Humanitarian Demining Research and Development (HD R&D) Program in partnership with HALO, continued a technology evaluation of the Rotary Mine Comb (RMC) in Angola. Intermeshing tines on the RMC’s two rotors gently extricate large buried objects, including anti-tank mines, from the soil and push them to the side of the host vehicle’s path. HALO reports positive clearance results with the RMC in sandy soil, clearing 20 kilometers of road since 2008. With total assistance valued at $850,000, the HD R&D Program also provided HALO with funding for evaluations of a heavy detonation trailer and a JCB Loadall.
Despite an end to its decades-long civil war and transition to democracy in 2005, the vast quantity of poorly secured small arms circulating throughout Burundi has left the country with a soaring crime rate and stunted economy. The United States has assisted the government of Burundi with the destruction of excess man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS) and small arms and light weapons (SA/LW), as well as with a project to improve the security of military stockpiles.
Since FY2006, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political- Military Affairs (PM/WRA) has provided $1,278,438 in assistance to Burundi. U.S. Government assistance has supported mine-risk education and the destruction of 312 MANPADS, thousands of small arms, and tons of munitions.
In FY2009, PM/WRA granted $419,515 to the nongovernmental organization Bridgeway Group to install 20 police armories in the communes of Kinama, Cibitoke, and Kamenge. The project provides secure weapons storage facilities at police posts, in addition to training for weapons custodians in the two most violent communes in Bujumbura.
Also in FY2009, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and medical personnel from the U.S. Department of Defense’s United States Africa Command conducted a two-week training mission that trained 35 humanitarian mine-action instructors and 26 medical instructors from the Burundian Defense Force (BDF) and provided the following:
• $34,135 in reconnaissance/demolition training equipment
• $24,000 for inert ordnance training aids
• $15,514 in medical equipment for the BDF training
In January 2009, a representative from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) SA/LW Team and the PM/WRA Program Manager took a tour of a potential police armory construction site, a military logistics base, and several police armories. The military wanted to continue engagement with PM/WRA and DTRA, and requested additional physical security and stockpile management upgrades and training at outlying facilities. This was followed in April 2009 by a DTR A policy visit and assessment of several arms and ammunition storage sites in Burundi. The DTRA team made several recommendations and a senior military official subsequently requested technical seminars for his people so they could recognize and properly implement recommended changes.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Mine-risk education being conducted in the DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO. [Arne Hodelic]
Since FY2006 the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political- Military Affairs (PM/WRA) has contributed $4.24 million to SA/LW destruction and awareness, of which $4.12 million went to MAG (Mines Advisory Group). These grants for the removal and destruction of unsecured and abandoned SA/LW by MAG, including an additional $937,400 for FY2009, will continue through April 2010. As of January 2010, MAG had destroyed over 102,000 weapons and nearly 315 tons of excess and unstable munitions in the DRC.
Also in FY2009, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Leahy War Victims Fund’s implementing partner, International Polio Victims Response Committee, finished its final year of a three-year grant. This grant provided treatment opportunities and access to mobility and orthopedic services and equipment for people with disabilities in Kinshasa and Bunia.
In FY2009, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Leahy War Victims Fund provided $2 million to Ethiopia as follows:
• International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC )/Special Fund: $1 million for physical rehabilitation of survivors in two centers: Bahir Dar and Dessie
• ICRC /Ethiopia: $1 million for physical rehabilitation of survivors in 31 rehabilitation centers in 28 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa
While The Gambia has not formally noted a problem with landmines and unexploded ordnance, unrest in the neighboring Casamance region of Senegal has reportedly resulted in some landmine contamination. Between 1999 and 2008, there were three landmine casualties reported, and an influx of refugees from Senegal in 2007 prompted the government to provide landmine-risk education to Gambian border communities.
In FY2009, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) included $20,520 as part of a grant to Handicap International, operating in Senegal’s Casamance region, for the Nova Scotia Gambia Association (NGSA), a nongovernmental organization, to provide mine-risk education (MRE) and raise awareness in 43 Gambian border communities and 25 border schools as well as youth groups, other communities, and female-only schools. The intent is to reduce the potential threat of mine accidents, particularly among children. NSGA has been using a trained drama troupe, Gambian Armed Forces, and community cinema, as well as schools and youth groups to provide these MRE messages.
The War of Liberation in 1963–74, followed by internal conflict in 1998–99, and various periods of military activity along Guinea- Bissau’s borders have resulted in the country’s contamination by landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW). Between FY2000 and FY2009, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) and the U.S. Department of Defense’s Humanitarian Demining Research & Development (HD R&D) office together provided more than $4.7 million dollars in humanitarian mine action and battle area clearance assistance.
These efforts supported the return of over 240 acres of land for safe use, the conduct of a national Landmine Impact Survey, and improved skills of demining and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) personnel working for the indigenous nongovernmental organization HUMAID. PM/WRA also reduced the threat posed to local communities by unstable stockpiles by supporting the destruction of nearly 106 tons of that country’s excess military munitions. In FY2009, PM/WRA provided a total of $1 million in assistance as follows:
• HUMAID: $682,000 to continue humanitarian demining and clearance of ERW
• Cleared Ground Demining: $318,000 to support a roving EOD and military stockpile destruction team
The boundless availability of illicit military small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) undermines security in Kenya and impedes efforts to address regional conflict. The Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) supports Kenya and its regional neighbors by funding the Regional Centre on Small Arms (RECSA), which is located in Nairobi, Kenya. Since 2006, PM/WRA has provided $717,850 to RECSA as follows:
• From 2006–08, $499,500 to RECSA to combat the illicit proliferation and trafficking of SA/LW in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa regions
• $218,350 in 2009, which allowed Angola, the Central African Republic, the Republic of the Congo (Brazzaville) and Zambia to obtain SA/LW-marking machines
The 2009 grant to RECSA enabled more African states to mark their arms stockpiles. This grant established more effective weapons-inventory practices and facilitated the tracing of weapons in support of the implementation of national obligations under the United Nations International Tracing Instrument and various regional protocols on SA/LW. FY2009 funding to RECSA also supported fact-finding missions examining surplus stockpiles of SA/LW and munitions, as well as in-country seminars on controlling brokering and man-portable air-defense systems. In addition, PM/WRA, in partnership with RECSA, other regional and sub-regional organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and the United Nations, sponsored a workshop in Kigali, Rwanda, July 6–7, 2009, to examine illicit small-arms brokering in the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Region. Consequently, Member State delegates committed themselves to establishing brokering controls in their home countries.
In September 2009, at the request of the United Kingdom’s Humanitarian Peace Support School (HPSS), the United States Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) Small Arms and Light Weapons Branch conducted a seminar in Kenya to Kenyan Wildlife Service and Kenyan Police instructors on updates to the 2008 Physical Security and Stockpile Management (PSSM) executive seminar materials. This follow-up session was designed to train HPSS staff to present DTRA-produced PSSM seminar modules at future Eastern African states’ PSSM seminars at the HPSS facility.
Also in FY2009, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) personnel from the U.S. Department of Defense’s United States Africa Command conducted a 14-day training mission that trained 16 Kenyan Humanitarian Mine Action instructors at the HPSS, and provided the following:
• $32,000 in demining reconnaissance/demolition training equipment
• $24,156 in inert ordnance training aids
Prior to the early 1990s, Mozambique endured 30 years of conflict, leaving the country littered with landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW). Thanks in part to the United States and other donor nations, great progress has been made toward helping Mozambique become free from the humanitarian impact of landmines and ERW (“impact free”). Progress made in Mozambique is evidenced by the fact that in 2008, according to the 2009 edition of the Landmine Monitor Report (LMR), the Mozambican National Demining Institute recorded nine mine/ERW casualties, down from 47 reported casualties in 2007. The 2009 LMR, however, also stated that over 12,164,041 square meters of land were still contaminated as of December 2008. U.S. humanitarian mine-action assistance has continued in the meantime. In 2008, the four northern provinces were declared free from the humanitarian impact of landmines. Demining in the remaining six provinces continues.
Since the 1990s, the United States has invested over $40 million to help Mozambique become impact free. In FY2009, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political- Military Affairs (PM/WRA) provided $2.1 million to help Mozambique complete the development of its national demining capacity and assess the remaining landmine/ERW threat. PM/WRA’s assistance was as follows:
• $2,000,000 to The HALO Trust (HALO) to conduct humanitarian mine clearance in the provinces of Maputo, Manica, and Tete
• $124,000 to HALO to survey the extensive barrier minefields on the Mozambique/Zimbabwe border
Also in FY2009, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and medical personnel from the U.S. Department of Defense’s United States Africa Command conducted a 14-day training mission to Mozambique which trained 17 EOD instructors and 6 medical personnel from the Forcas Amadas da Defesa De Mocambique (FADM) and provided the following training equipment:
• $32,620 in EOD reconnaissance and demolition tools
• $11,860 in medical equipment
Republic of the Congo
Between 1993 and 1999, three major conflicts displaced approximately 810,000 people and caused widespread killing and looting in the Republic of the Congo (RoC). Arms obtained by the main militia groups were reportedly looted from police and military depots. Successfully recovered weapons and munitions were later stored in unsecured government depots in populated areas, posing a significant security threat. These ammunition stores would create a serious public safety and health hazard if they were to catch on fire or spontaneously detonate. Given the gravity of the situation in the RoC, it is projected that continued funding will be required to support additional weapons destruction and assist in creating safe storage at the weapons depots.
Since FY2007, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) has provided $1.32 million to the nongovernmental organization MAG (Mines Advisory Group) to complete Technical Surveys of contaminated ammunition depots in Brazzaville and Dolisie-Kimongo and to destroy ammunition stockpiles.
In FY2008 and FY2009, PM/WRA provided MAG with an additional $884,000 to continue the destruction of excess/obsolete weapons and ammunition. Between September 2008 and September 2009, MAG destroyed more than 75 tons of munitions and 159,000 ordnance pieces. This project has not only facilitated the destruction of excess and hazardous military stockpiles but has also contributed to the development of the national armed forces’ capacity to carry out conventional weapons destruction and stockpile management.
As a result of major ongoing conflicts since 1964, landmines, explosive remnants of war (ERW), and other hazardous conventional munitions adversely affect many parts of Somalia. Illicit conventional weapons and small arms/light weapons trafficking is widespread; many weapons travel through the ill-defined border with Kenya. Significant levels of contamination along the Ethiopian border and southern clan areas still exist, and abandoned stockpiles are routinely found in the vicinity of civilian populations. The United Nations and leading nongovernmental organizations operating in Somalia have concluded that unexploded ordnance and abandoned stockpiles constitute a greater threat than minefields.
In FY2009 the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political- Military Affairs (PM/WRA) provided more than $1.4 million in funding to implement the following:
• MAG (Mines Advisory Group): $762,600 grant for conventional weapons clearance and destruction in conflict-affected regions of Somalia
• The HALO Trust: $700,000 grant for humanitarian mine clearance in Somaliland
• Julia Burke Foundation: $59,962 grant for ammunition survey of Somaliland
Preparing for stockpile destruction in SUDAN. [Asa Wessel]
Since FY2003, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political- Military Affairs (PM/WRA) has provided $19,541,964 in conventional weapons destruction assistance to Sudan. These funds have enabled operational support and clearance in south-central Sudan as well as management capacity development and training through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Cranfield University. Humanitarian mine-action support has included fielding clearance, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD), and mine-risk education (MRE) teams in the Nuba Mountains and southern Sudan. SA/LW funding has concentrated on weapons-cache eradication, resulting in the destruction of more than 50 metric tons of SA/LW munitions and ordnance items, including 25 man-portable air defense systems.
In FY2009 PM/WRA funding to Sudan totaled $4.6 million as follows:
• Cranfield University: $300,000 to provide senior and middle management training to employees of Sudanese national authorities, National Mine Action Center (NMAC) and South Sudan Demining Authority (SSDA). Funding also supports the development of national mine-action performance indicators and measures to track progress in achieving full national ownership.
• DanChurchAid: $499,964 to support EOD/battle-area clearance/manual demining/ survey activities for an expanded multi-task team in the Nuba Mountains to reach a minimum of 50,000 beneficiaries, and to coordinate an MRE- and community-liaison (CL) team that delivers approximately 250 MRE/CL sessions, reaching an estimated 40,000 Sudanese.
• MAG (Mines Advisory Group): $1 million to provide an 11-person EOD/SA/LW team to cover at least 240 spot tasks in Greater Equatoria and to support the South Sudan Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission as required. MAG also received $500,000 to provide MRE and CL to an estimated 24,000 returnees and internally displaced persons in South Sudan, and for the weapons collection/reporting of approximately 120 danger areas. In addition, MAG received $600,000 for threat reduction and survey in Blue Nile state and Kassala through the summer of 2010.
• UNDP: $500,000 to provide comprehensive management, technical support, and training to NMAC and SSDA authorities to design, strengthen, and consolidate institutional and management capacities, develop national standards, and implement the Mine Action Transition Plan with technical assistance from UNDP and UNMAO.
• Norwegian People’s Aid: $1 million to continue EOD, BAC, and survey teams in Equatoria and Upper Nile, and to conduct route survey and complete spot EOD/ BAC tasks as necessary in Jonglei.
• Sudanese Integrated Mine Action Service (SIMAS): $200,000 to Sudan’s only national nongovernmental organization fully accredited to international standards for the development of a civil-society humanitarian demining capacity at a functional level. Since first receiving PM/WRA funding in FY2008, SIMAS has matured considerably, and in addition to conducting manual-demining activities, it is now also certified to conduct mobile EOD activities, including BAC and the removal of hazardous abandoned ordnance caches.
• In addition, the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) conducted a physical security and stockpile management (PSSM) assessment as well as a PSSM Technical Seminar in September 2009 for approximately 50 participants from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, reaching a wide audience that was grateful for the orientation and expressed interest in continuing a relationship with DTRA.