Mozambican villagers, whose farmland is being cleared of landmines by The HALO Trust with funding from the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA), come out to greet the deminers and an American visitor from PM/WRA. Photo courtesy of John Stevens, PM/WRA, U.S. Dept. of State.
A continent as diverse as it is tumultuous, Africa houses 15 percent of the world’s population and is the location of some of the deadliest wars of the last century. From the jungles of the Congo to the vast deserts in Northern Africa, the continent covers 11.7 million square miles. Most of Africa is at peace and has abundant natural resources, but past conflicts, slowly improving economies, and lack of livelihoods and accountable government have resulted in the impoverishment of many. Millions of citizens have been displaced by conflict, and thousands every year are injured by persistent landmines and explosive remnants of war.
Beginning with a war for independence from Portugal in the 1960s that was immediately followed by a 27-year civil war, Angola’s four decades of near-continuous conflict have left the country contaminated with landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) in all 18 provinces. A Landmine Impact Survey completed in May 2007 confirmed blocked access to agricultural resources, roads, and drinking water, and indentified mine and ERW contamination that affects 2.4 million people in 1,968 localities. Consequently, 410,000 returning refugees have faced trouble resettling, humanitarian assistance has been limited, and the country’s overall economic recovery has been substantially slowed. Additionally, Angola has hundreds of thousands of small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) in civilian hands and even more in unsecured government stockpiles.
From FY1995–FY2010, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) invested $79,651,647 in humanitarian mine-action and SA/LW support and destruction.
In FY2010, PM/WRA spent a total of $10 million on humanitarian demining programs and SA/LW efforts to clear 1.7 million square meters of land and 250 kilometers of road as follows:
An Angolan woman walks through a HALO-cleared minefield carrying water and her belongings. On both sides of the path, white-tipped sticks mark where HALO found and destroyed anti-tank mines. Photo courtesy of The HALO Trust.
• The HALO Trust (HALO)—$3 million to return 943,944 square meters of land to productive use, reduce the threat on 141 kilometers of roads, and re-survey 98 suspected hazard areas across four provinces. This resulted in the destruction of 5,155 landmines and 1,670 pieces of unexploded ordnance (UXO).
• MAG (Mines Advisory Group)—$1.7 million to fund 943 explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) spot-clearance tasks and clear, verify, and return 346,575 square meters of land to productive use. MAG’s clearance activities directly benefitted close to 5,000 people.
• Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA)—$1.8 million to fund the return of 948,809 square meters of land to productive use, reduce or cancel 163 suspected hazardous areas, and complete 82 EOD spot tasks. This resulted in the destruction of 216 landmines and 1,511 pieces of UXO.
• HALO—$1 million for three weapons and ammunition destruction teams that destroyed 18,000 weapons and 46 tons of ammunition.
• HALO, MAG, and NPA—a total of $2.5 million to replace worn-out mechanical demining assets, vehicles, detectors and other durable demining equipment, which will allow each implementer to maintain current clearance levels for the next few years despite substantial annual increases in operating costs.
Also in FY2010, 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). The RMC’s intermeshing tines 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 has reported positive clearance results with the RMC in sandy soil, clearing 29 kilometers of road since 2008. With total assistance in Angola valued at $850,000, the HD R&D Program also continued the evaluation of a JCB Loadall, a versatile tractor with a telescopic boom. To learn more about HD R&D, visit www.humanitarian-demining.org .
In Mbanda near Macamba, south of Burundi, a member of the National Council for the Defense of Democracy–Forces for the Defense of Democracy surrenders his weapons to the UN registration desk. Photo courtesy of UN/Martine Perret.
In 2005, Burundi signed a peace agreement that put an official end to three decades of civil war and transitioned the country into a newly-established democracy. Despite this progress, however, explosive remnants of war, poor weapons stockpile management, and widespread small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) distribution among the civilian population leave Burundi’s security conditions extremely fragile.
From FY2006–FY2010, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) provided $1,793,925 for mine-risk education and SA/LW support, including explosive ordnance disposal training, weapons stockpile security, and the destruction of man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS). As of 2008, these funds contributed to the destruction of 2,199 weapons, 4.48 tons of ammunition and 312 MANPADS. In 2009 and 2010, PM/WRA supported the construction of 26 Burundian Police micro-armories. These micro-armories allow the police to have a police post from which to operate, safely and securely store their weapons, and contribute to the overall security in Burundi’s capital city of Bujumbura.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Mwanga Site in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where a young woman was injured by a landmine and lost part of her legs and her six-month old child in 2006. Photo courtesy of UN/Martine Perret.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) went through several overlapping armed conflicts between 1996 and 2003, causing an estimated three million deaths and contaminating the country with large amounts of landmines and small arms and light weapons. Though treaties and weapons-collection programs have placed most of these weapons in government stockpiles, the stockpiles are often unsafe and poorly secured. Consequently, the local populations are at continual risk of injuries and deaths from these weapons.
From FY2006–FY2010, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) invested $5,082,687 in the implementation of a weapons survey, weapons destruction, and the development of Stockpile: A Documentary Survey of Mines and Weapons Stores in Democratic Republic of Congo. Between October 2006 and January 2011 alone, this investment led to the destruction of 110,829 weapons, 745 tons of ammunition, 293 cluster munitions, 12 man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS), 245 anti-tank mines, and 2,007 anti-personnel mines.
In FY2010, PM/WRA granted $841,000 to MAG (Mines Advisory Group) for the continuation of a multi-year conventional weapons-destruction project including the improvement of proper storage security and management, the development of safe conventional weapons-destruction techniques, and the destruction of more than 10,000 weapons and 100 tons of ammunition.
Additionally, in September 2009, DRC requested U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) to provide assistance for re-establishing a mine-action company in Kisangani. Two AFRICOM missions were conducted in 2009 to establish a baseline and evaluate ability and knowledge, and in 2010, six additional missions were completed. AFRICOM also provided equipment valued at $125,000 over two years to establish the start-up of FARDC Engineer Company, providing the company with training aids and tools for a demining, explosive ordnance disposal, and explosive remnants of war course.
Internal and international armed conflicts dating as far back as 1935 resulted in Ethiopia being contaminated by mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW). It is also affected by the proliferation of small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) in the region.
In FY2010, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Leahy War Victims Fund provided $2 million for program implementation to the International Committee of the Red Cross to support 28 rehabilitation centers working with victims of landmines and ERW and other persons with disabilities in 15 countries.
This French FAMAS assault rifle is one of many excess and deteriorating small arms, light weapons, and munitions that Cleared Ground Demining is helping Guinea-Bissau’s military destroy with the PM/WRA support. All of the items in the background are slated for destruction as well, and the metal will be recycled. Photo courtesy of John Stevens, PM/WRA, U.S. Dept. of State.
Guinea-Bissau’s legacy of landmine and explosive remnants of war (ERW) contamination is the result of three distinct armed conflicts stemming back to 1963. Though significant demining has already been completed, Though significant demining has already been completed, the Landmine Monitor Report stated that as of the end of April 2010, there were nine known mined areas remaining with an estimated total size of 1.266 square kilometers. Consequently, lack of access to conflict-affected communities has left much of the local population at risk. It has also impeded rehabilitation projects, prevented subsistence farming, and reduced cash-crop harvesting.
From FY1999–FY2009, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) provided $3,526,616 for mine/unexploded ordnance (UXO) clearance, survey, and destruction of government stockpiles, including the clearance of more than one million square meters of land, the removal of all mines from the capital city of Bissau, and the clearance of multiple rural, contaminated areas. PM/WRA also provided explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and demining training to the nongovernmental organization HUMAID. Additionally, the United States’ Department of Defense donated $1,374,000 in FY2006 and FY2007 for the training of HUMAID EOD operators and field testing of the MAXX demining system. In 2008 alone, this training helped HUMAID clear more than 500,000 square meters, destroy 5,759 pieces of UXO, 325 anti-personnel mines, and 53 anti-tank mines.
In FY2010, PM/WRA granted $1million as follows:
• Cleared Ground—$318,000 for the continued destruction of military stockpiles and a roving EOD team to clear ERW around the country. In addition, Cleared Ground operates a UXO hotline, which allows Cleared Ground to respond to individuals reporting mine, UXO, and ERW threats in their community.
• HUMAID—$682,000 for the continued mine/UXO clearance of affected communities in Guinea-Bissau, including the clearance of approximately 700,000 square meters of land.
Kenya is severely affected by the widespread availability of small arms and light weapons (SA/LW), exacerbating attempts at addressing regional conflict. To help support Kenya and its neighboring countries, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) funds the Regional Centre on Small Arms (RECSA) in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa and has provided a total of $1,810,787 to RESCA since FY2006. This money has allowed for SA/LW destruction activities and workshops on man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS), arms brokering, stockpile security, and capacity building. In addition, PM/WRA has funded the purchase of 26 SA/LW marking machines.
In FY2010, PM/WRA granted $269,000 to RECSA for the delivery of marking machine components and safety equipment and associated training on SA/LW marking, fact-finding missions to identify SA/LW stockpiles ready for destruction, and institutional strengthening and staff capacity building.
Also in FY2010, U.S. African Command (AFRICOM) continued an engagement with the Humanitarian Peace Support School in Nairobi, Kenya (formerly the International Mine Action Training Centre) to provide explosive ordnance disposal (EOD)/explosive remnants of war (ERW) instructors and EOD/ERW capacity building activities, a value of $45,000.
A remote Mauritanian Army munitions-storage point, somewhere in the Sahara. In conjunction with Italy and NATO’s Maintenance and Supply Agency, PM/WRA is helping Mauritania to safeguard its arms and munitions. Photo courtesy of John Stevens, PM/WRA, U.S. Dept. of State.
Mauritania’s landmine and explosive remnants of war (ERW) contamination stems from conflict over the disputed territory within Western Sahara in the late 1970s. In particular, the northern regions of Adrar, Dakhlet Nouadhibou, and Tiris Zemmour cover an area of 310,000 square kilometers. Additionally, there are 65 suspected hazardous areas affecting 60 communities containing anti-vehicle mines, ERW, and cluster munitions remnants. Contamination throughout Mauritania is slowing or preventing social and economic growth in many areas, blocking access to pastures, community resources, and occasionally killing livestock.
In FY2010, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) partnered with the NATO Partnership for Peace/Mediterranean Dialogue Trust Fund Project in Mauritania. This project helped contribute to the safety and security of the Mauritanian people, enhance the operational efficiency of the Mauritanian National Army (MNA) with respect to its at-risk stockpiled arms and munitions, and assisted in the productive social reintegration of MNA military personnel to civilian life through vocational training. Altogether, PM/WRA spent $1 million for the following:
• The construction of two reference ammunition depots for the MNA that meet NATO standards
• Enhanced ammunition depot management through training and education
• Support for the destruction of the MNA’s obsolete and unserviceable stockpiled arms and munitions
Mozambique’s extensive landmine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) problem dates back to the 1960s during the Mozambican War of Independence and continued following the Mozambican Civil War. By 1992, when all conflict had stopped, Mozambique emerged as one of the most severely landmine-affected countries in the world. After more than 13 years of assistance in clearance operations, however, the number of hazardous areas has been greatly reduced, and all four Northern provinces have been cleared.
From FY1997–FY2010, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) invested $29,585,335 in training and equipment, capacity building activities by the Forças Armadas de Defesa de Moçambique (Mozambique Armed Defense Force or FADM), and support of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in clearing landmines and UXO in more than 50 percent of the country, including RONCO Consulting Corporation’s clearance of a major rail line and The HALO Trust’s (HALO) clearance of Maputo province. In addition, PM/WRA provided $600,000 to refurbish FADM demining facilities, the U.S. Department of Defense provided $11,449,000 for a train-the-trainer demining program with FADM, USAID provided $5,533,000 to HALO for resettlement of displaced persons and development of a Mozambican NGO for prosthetics and orthotics, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided $2.1 million for landmine survivor programs.
In FY2010, the U.S. continued support to Mozambique through PM/WRA’s grant of $2 million to HALO. The investment was used to clear 4,581 mines from 527,738 square meters of mine contamination from major sources of water and infrastructure and return land to local populations for housing and agricultural use. Mozambique is working toward becoming mine-impact free by 2014.
Namibia was contaminated with explosive remnants of war (ERW) as a result of its war of independence (1966–1989) and from ammunition storage facilities located in the north that exploded in the 1990s. Consequently, clearance continues on an as-needed basis.
In FY2010, U.S. Africa Command sent three explosive ordnance disposal instructors to conduct an ERW train-the-trainer mission for 20 Namibian National Police (NAMPOL) Explosive Control Unit (ECU) instructors. The training, valued at $77,826 including $47,000 in donated equipment, entailed 81 hours of classroom instruction, included 46 live demolition detonations, established a baseline for future engagement, and provided NAMPOL ECU with greater capacity and improved equipment.
Handicap International staff demonstrating full excavation demining in the Casamance region of Senegal. Photo courtesy of Emma Smith Atkinson, PM/WRA, U.S. Dept. of State.
Most of Senegal’s landmine and explosive remnants of war (ERW) contamination stems from conflicts between the Sengalese Armed Forces and the separatist Mouvement des Forces Démocratiques de Casamance (MFDC or Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance), which have continued to occur sporadically since 1982. Though the two groups signed a peace agreement in 2005, some wings of the MFDC continue fighting to this day, increasing the risk of additional contamination. While the MFDC has claimed they are not using landmines, they have not ruled out the possibility of future use.
In 2005, the United Nations Development Programme and Handicap International-France (HI) began a Landmine Impact Survey of Casamance, revealing 149 suspected hazardous areas in 93 communities. In 2006, reports further indicated that mines and ERW affected 90,702 people and contaminated 95 kilometers of paths, tracks, and roads.
From FY2004–FY2009, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) provided $1,913,000 in funding toward mine/ERW clearance, mine-risk education, capacity building, and eliminating small arms and light weapons stockpiles.
In FY2010, PM/WRA provided $500,000 to HI-France to further help Senegal’s Casamance region reach mine-impact free status.
Sierra Leone lacks any known mined areas; however, it does have residual unexploded ordnance (UXO) as the result of civil conflicts. In FY2010, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) collaborated with the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces through DynCorp International to destroy obsolete and surplus ordnance. Altogether, PM/WRA spent $147,000 to fund the destruction of 2,567 weapons, 44,782 small arms munitions, and 37,357 items of UXO weighing in at 98.52 net tons.
Mine-risk education being conducted in Somalia. Photo courtesy of Peter Muller.
Somalia has been adversely affected by landmines, explosive remnants of war (ERW), and conventional munitions as a result of conflicts since 1964. In addition, governments, non-state actors, and private investors have frequently trafficked conventional weapons and small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) across the border with Kenya. Multiple abandoned stockpiles are located within civilian residential areas, and high levels of contamination exist along both the southern border with Kenya and the Ethiopian border.
From FY1998–FY2008, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) provided $7,352,000 to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), including The HALO Trust (HALO), CARE International, and MAG (Mines Advisory Group) to assist in humanitarian demining, SA/LW and conventional weapons destruction, and mobile explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team operations.
In FY2010, PM/WRA provided grants totaling $2 million as follows:
• MAG—$800,000 for continued EOD operation support, capacity development, and delivery of mine-risk education (MRE).
• HALO—$800,000 for mechanical and manual demining activities in Somaliland. This project will return approximately 105.8 acres of priority mine- and ERW-suspected hazardous areas to productive use.
• Danish Demining Group—$400,000 will fund the operations of two EOD teams to address critical spots that are brought to their attention by people in affected households and communities. Community liaison visits and MRE team sessions create awareness of the EOD teams and risks in the community.
DCA Operations Manager Craig McDiarmid (left) and U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration during Mr. Gration’s visit to Kadugli, Sudan. Photo courtesy of Rune Bech Persson.
Sudan has been adversely affected by landmines, explosive remnants of war (ERW), small arms and light weapons (SA/LW), and multiple other conventional weapons as a result of the 21-year bitter civil conflict between the North and South. When the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed in January 2005, the civil war officially came to an end, allowing the arrival of United Nations’ missions and humanitarian assistance. The United Nations Mine Action Office (UNMAO) estimates that 19 of Sudan’s 25 states are affected by landmines and ERW, with most of the contamination located in the southern and central parts of the country.
Since FY2003, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) has provided $24,392,000 in conventional weapons destruction (CWD) assistance to Sudan. This assistance has provided operational support and mine/ERW clearance in southcentral Sudan, as well as management capacity development and training through the United Nations Development Programme and Cranfield University. PM/WRA’s funding has fielded clearance teams, explosive-ordnance disposal (EOD), and mine-risk education (MRE) teams in the Nuba Mountains and southern Sudan. Its CWD funding has resulted in the destruction of more than 50 metric tons of arms and munitions including 25 man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS) so far.
In FY2010, PM/WRA spent $5.35 million to fund survey, MRE, and weapons clearance and destruction as follows:
• Norwegian People’s Aid—$1,050,000 for the continuation of EOD, battle-area clearance (BAC), and survey teams in Equatoria and Upper Nile and intervention into Jonglei to conduct route survey and complete spot EOD/BAC tasks
• MAG (Mines Advisory Group)— $800,000 to provide an 11-person EOD/SA/LW team for 12 months to cover at least 240 spot tasks in Greater Equatoria and support the South Sudan Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration Commission (SSDDRC)
• MAG—$600,000 for survey and BAC teams to support program expansion into North Sudan, including the provinces of Blue Nile, Upper Nile, and Jonglei
• MAG—$400,000 for MRE and community liaison/data collection reporting of at least 240 danger areas in Eastern Equatoria
• Fondation Suisse de Déminage (FSD or Swiss Foundation for Mine Action) —$750,000 for continuation of FSD technical and operational support to the Sudanese Integrated Mine Action Service to build its capacity for EOD and manual/mechanical demining training activities
The Kingdom of Swaziland faces challenges from excess unstable and obsolete munitions that were at risk excess unstable and obsolete munitions that were at risk of exploding and causing damage to neighboring communities. Additionally, the physical security of the Swaziland Defense Force’s weapons depots were not up to international best-practice standards and were at an increased risk of proliferation. Finally, the Swaziland Royal Police did not have a facility large enough to safely and securely store its weapons and ammunition.
In FY2010, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) spent $229,000 for physical security upgrades to all of the Swaziland Defense Force’s weapons and munitions depots, and physical security upgrades, including lockable gun racks, to the Swaziland Royal Police’s national armory. In addition, this program provided weapons-cutting machines and training to Swaziland military and police personnel that led to the destruction of 1,729 weapons and created a national weapons destruction capability. Finally, based on U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency technical experts’ recommendations, and in order to receive munitions depot upgrades, the Swaziland Defense Force safely destroyed more than 28 tons of obsolete and unstable munitions.