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Diplomacy in Action

2011 To Walk the Earth in Safety: Asia


Report
Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
July 1, 2011

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Date: 2011 Description: Nepalese children in the capital, Kathmandu.  © Photo David Gough/IRIN
Nepalese children in the capital, Kathmandu. Photo © David Gough/IRIN.

The largest and most populous continent, Asia is home to more than 60 percent of the world’s population and makes up 30 percent of the entire world’s landmass. Southeast Asia was the site of several civil wars, rebellions, and international conflicts in the 30 years following World War II, and millions of civilians died in those conflicts. Hundreds more continue to be killed or injured each year by landmines and other explosive remnants of war. A large population of survivors, especially in Cambodia and Vietnam, require substantial socioeconomic support.

Afghanistan

Afghanistan is severely affected by landmines, un-exploded ordnance (UXO), and poorly secured conventional weapons and munitions after more than three decades of violent conflict. Afghanistan is the most heavily mined country in the world, and to this day insurgents use landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) as improvised explosive devices to attack civilian and military targets, as well as noncombatants. Although the Mine Action Program in Afghanistan has successfully cleared more than half of all suspected hazardous areas, deteriorating infrastructure, difficult terrain, and ongoing conflict leave the remaining contaminated land inaccessible.

Since FY1997, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) has provided more than $184 million in humanitarian mine-action and conventional weapons destruction (CWD) assistance to Afghanistan. During this period of time, PM/WRA assisted five Afghan nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to sustain clearance operations, provide vocational training, and develop community-based demining activities. PM/WRA’s partnership with DynCorp International has created eight CWD teams and advisors, and supported security, medical, and logistics infrastructure for PM/WRA’s Afghan program. In addition, PM/WRA funding to The HALO Trust (HALO) and Danish Demining Group (DDG) helped destroy more than 430 tons of conventional weapons, explosive ordnance, and small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) ammunition.

In FY2010, PM/WRA provided approximately $45.8 million to continue mine action and SA/LW ammunition destruction in Afghanistan as follows: 

Date: 2011 Description: The Halo Trust facilitates mine-risk education in Afghanistan.  © Photo courtesy of The Halo Trust
The Halo Trust facilitates mine-risk education in Afghanistan. Photo courtesy of The Halo Trust.

• DynCorp International—$8 million to continue operating eight Afghan CWD teams, provide technical assistance to five local NGOs, and further develop national capacity

• Afghan Technical Consultants—$4 million for continuing community-based demining in the east, as well as manual and mechanical clearance, mine-detection dog (MDD) operations, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) activities, and battle-area clearance (BAC) operations

• Demining Agency for Afghanistan—More than $6.8 million for continuing community-based demining in the south, as well as manual, mechanical, MDD, EOD, and BAC operations

• Mine Clearance Planning Agency—More than $6.4 million to continue mine-action operations, surveys, area reductions, and community-based demining in the east and south

• Mine Detection Center—$3.5 million to continue manual and MDD clearance

• Organization for Mine Clearance and Afghan Rehabilitation (OMAR)—More than $6.1 million for continued community-based demining in the east, as well as manual, mechanical, MDD, EOD, BAC, and mine-risk education operations with OMAR’s television affiliate, Shamshad Television Studio of Kabul

• HALO—More than $4.8 million to continue operations in the northern and central provinces of Afghanistan

• HALO—$800,000 to continue weapons and ammunition disposal operations in central and western Afghanistan

• Danish Demining Group—More than $1.5 million for surveys and clearance operations in the Panjshir province

• Information Management Mine Action Program—$400,000 for the deployment of the geospatial and information management tool “OASIS”

• Clear Path International—More than $3 million for Victim Assistance projects in the central and eastern provinces of Afghanistan, including physical rehabilitation services, peer-support teams for people with disabilities, and economic reintegration through agriculture, sports, and home-based micro-enterprises

• Marshall Legacy Institute—Almost $300,000 for the expansion of the Mine Detection Dog Partnership and Children Against Mines Program

Also in FY2010, the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DOD) Humanitarian Demining Training Center deployed a team to Ottawa, Canada, to conduct a train-the-trainer course for seven Canadian soldiers. The Canadian Coalition Forces were deployed to Afghanistan as part of the Bagram Mine Action Center Information Management cell.

Additionally, DOD’s Humanitarian Demining Research and Development (HD R&D) Program, in partnership with HALO, continued evaluating equipment valued at $520,000. This included the Orbit Screen, which sifts mine-contaminated soil, the Mantis, an armored area-preparation and mine-clearance tractor, and several sifting excavator attachments. Combined, these systems have cleared more than 700,000 square meters of land, sifted more than 126,000 cubic meters of soil, and cleared or destroyed more than 21,000 mines and pieces of UXO. The systems continue to perform Technical Surveys and clear mines in villages and agricultural areas throughout Afghanistan. The Raptor, an armored tractor fitted with area-preparation and mine-clearance attachments, valued at $476,000, is scheduled to begin operations in FY2011. To learn more about the Humanitarian Demining Program, visit www.humanitarian-demining.org.

Cambodia

Date: 2011 Description: Colin King performs field analysis on aging landmine components in Cambodia.  © Photo courtesy of Daniele Ressler/CISR
Colin King performs field analysis on aging landmine components in Cambodia. Photo courtesy of Daniele Ressler/CISR.

Cambodia’s severe landmine and explosive remnants of war contamination is a direct result of nearly 30 years of armed conflicts involving the Khmer Rouge, the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, Vietnamese government forces, and the Thai Army. Landmines are a particular problem in the western part of the country, where the immense K-5 Mine Belt spans the border separating Cambodia and Thailand. Toward the eastern part of the country, Cambodia is largely affected by unexploded ordnance (UXO) from conflicts with Vietnam and from U.S. air and artillery strikes during the Vietnam War. Due to limited government resources, international donors finance more than 90 percent of the mine and UXO clearance activities.

From FY1993–FY2009, the U.S. Government provided more than $61.8 million, including $44.2 million from the the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA), to fund the operations of DynCorp International, The HALO Trust (HALO), MAG (Mines Advisory Group), Clear Path International and other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) for capacity-building exercises, clearance of K-5 minefields along the western border with Thailand, clearance of UXO in the central and eastern areas of the country, and financial support to the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC). In addition, the U.S. has also provided mine-risk education and rehabilitation assistance for landmine-accident victims.

In FY2010, PM/WRA invested $5.05 million in Cambodian humanitarian mine/UXO action as follows:

• DynCorp International—$2.49 million for operational support of two CMAC Demining Units, including training in mobile mine and UXO clearance, and deploying UXO clearance teams. DynCorp also provided technical and managerial advice to CMAC.

• MAG—$1.05 million for battlefield area clearance of mines and UXO in several provinces.

• HALO—$950,000 for clearance of mines and UXO in several provinces.

• Golden West Humanitarian Foundation (Golden West)—$274,000 for training of CMAC personnel in advanced explosive ordnance disposal techniques, and for funding CMAC’s Explosive Harvesting Program.

• Clear Path International—$128,000 for several victim-assistance projects.

• Landmine Relief Fund—$100,000 for support of the clearance operations of Cambodian Self-Help Demining, a local NGO operating in northcentral Cambodia.

• Spirit of Soccer—$50,000 for sports-based risk education.

The U.S. Department of Defense’s Humanitarian Demining Research and Development (HD R&D) Program has worked for many years with CMAC, HALO, MAG, and Golden West in Cambodia, providing technologies valued at more than $3 million for operational field evaluations (OFEs). Since 2006, HALO, MAG, and CMAC have integrated the dual-sensor Handheld Standoff Mine Detection System (HSTAMIDS) in their manual, anti-personnel (AP) mine-clearance operations of densely cluttered minefields. In total, the HSTAMIDS operations have cleared 2.7 million square meters of minefields and detected 16,600 AP mines.

In FY2010, the HD R&D Program continued the OFE of long-handled tools to augment the speed of the HSTAMIDS preparatory and clutter investigation processes. HD R&D also initiated the evaluation of Badger (an area-preparation and mine-clearance excavator), continued OFEs of the Storm (an area-preparation and mine-clearance excavator capable of operating on steep slopes), the Tempest (a vegetation-cutting flail with excavator soil-sifting attachments), the MAXX+ (a remote-controlled mini-excavator), and the innovative Explosive Harvesting System. To learn more about the U.S. Department of Defense’s Humanitarian Demining Program, visit www.humanitarian-demining.org.

Also in FY2010, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Leahy War Victims Fund (LWVF) provided $500,000 in ongoing funding to The International Center to support three prosthetics and orthotics workshops in Cambodia—Kieng Klang, Kratie, and Prey Veng. In FY2011, in addition to ongoing support for rehabilitation efforts, the program will explore options such as public/private partnerships and fee for services, which will sustain services over the long-term. 

Laos 

Date: 2011 Description: Heavy flooding in Laos has made UXO removal even more difficult.  © Photo courtesy of Stephen Pritchard, NPA.
Heavy flooding in Laos has made UXO removal even more difficult. Photo courtesy of Stephen Pritchard, NPA.

During the Vietnam War, a U.S. extensive bombing campaign left Laos the most heavily bombed country in the world per capita, a tragic title it retains to this day. Landmines and cluster munitions continue to threaten the Lao people, and because of the high value of scrap metal derived from unexploded ordnance (UXO) in this impoverished country, human contact with explosive remnants of war (ERW) is increasing. The demand for UXO-contaminated land has increased due to the country’s large population growth in rural areas.

During FY1993–FY2009, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) provided assistance totaling $25,472,000 for clearance of UXO/minefields, capacity building for a national program, UXO/mine-risk education (MRE) in public schools, and victim assistance (VA) activities.

For FY2010, Congress directed that the Department of State spend no less than $5 million for humanitarian mine and UXO action in Laos. PM/WRA provided $5.1 million for mine/UXO clearance and MRE/VA activities as follows:

• MAG (Mines Advisory Group)—$1.7 million for clearance operations in several provinces. These projects typically are coordinated with other developmental activities conducted by the Lao government and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) so as to focus clearance efforts on land that will be put to immediate use. MAG also used a portion of this funding to revise and improve clearance equipment and procedures.

• UXO Lao—$1.25 million for its nationwide clearance work, channeled subcontracted to Armor Group ($747,500) and MAG ($500,000). Armor Group’s support included technical advice to UXO Lao and the National Regulatory Authority.

• World Education—$950,000 for 12 months of support for the UXO Education and Awareness program along the Laos-Vietnam border and for victims’ assistance in heavily-affected areas.

• Norwegian People’s Aid—$700,000 for clearance in Sekong province.

• Catholic Relief Services—$230,000 for a two-year VA project.

• Spirit of Soccer—$220,000 for a two-year, sports-based risk-education project.

• Clear Path International—$52,000 for VA.

In addition, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Leahy War Victims Fund (LWVF) provided $1 million to a program, implemented by Cooperative Orthotic Prosthetic Enterprise, to support prosthetic and orthotic activites in collaboration with the Lao National Rehabilitation Center.

Nepal

A decade of armed conflict (1996–2006) in Nepal left the country contaminated by anti-personnel landmines as well as explosive remnants of war. As of December 2010, the Nepal Army has cleared 23 of the 53 minefields. Thousands of casualties have occurred over the years, including 70 in 2009.

The U.S. Agency for International Development’s Leahy War Victims Fund provided $500,000 to Handicap International to implement a program that works with war victims and others through eight prosthetic, orthotic, and community-based rehabilitation providers to improve the quality of rehabilitation treatment services.

Pakistan

Date: 2010 Description: Families cook their meal inside a tent camp in Quetta, Balochistan Province, Pakistan, where thousands have been displaced following massive floods that began in July 2010.  © Photo courtesy of UN/WFP/Amjad Jamal
Families cook their meal inside a tent camp in Quetta, Balochistan Province, Pakistan, where thousands have been displaced following massive floods that began in July 2010. Photo courtesy of UN/WFP/Amjad Jamal.

Pakistan is contaminated with large amounts of landmines, unexploded ordnance (UXO), improvised explosive devices, and other explosive remnants of war (ERW) as a result of conflicts with India and ongoing military operations against insurgents in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Since 2009, military operations in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas have caused the displacement of more than three million people, creating a significant risk of increased casualties for individuals who return to former battle areas. At the time of this report, an estimated one million people from the western border areas remained displaced by violence. Pakistan is one of a few countries still producing anti-personnel mines.

Continued from FY2009, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) awarded Response International (RI) with a singular grant of $516,407 for an 18-month period of performance though May 2011. RI educates internally displaced persons (IDPs) on the threat of landmines, UXO, and ERW to significantly alleviate the community threat once the IDPs are able to return to their homes. To help raise awareness of this issue among more than 250,000 IDPs, PM/WRA is prepared to extend this grant through September 2011 without additional cost.

Sri Lanka

Date: 2011 Description: SLA deminer utilizes the rake method for demining in Sri Lanka.  © Photo courtesy of the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation
SLA deminer utilizes the rake method for demining in Sri Lanka. Photo courtesy of the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation.

Nearly three decades of armed conflict between government forces and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam have contaminated Sri Lanka with landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW). While some of this land was originally cleared, between 2006 and 2009, a breakdown in cease-fire agreements and the ensuing escalation of war led to a military victory by the Sri Lankan Army (SLA), as well as an additional level of mine/ERW pollution that has yet to be surveyed. Much of the suspected hazardous area falls within agricultural land needed for the planting of seasonal crops. It is estimated that nearly 300,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) resided in camps in the heavily affected districts of Vayuniya, Mannar, Jaffna, and Trincomalee at the conclusion of fighting. The widespread threat of landmines and ERW have hampered and delayed the full repatriation of many IDPs and present further challenges to Sri Lanka’s already difficult economic reconstruction.

From FY2002–FY2010 the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) spent $22,416,882 in Sri Lanka to address landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) in affected areas, build operational capacity within the SLA, deliver mine-risk education, and expedite the resettlement of IDPs. In addition, during FY2002–FY2010, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Leahy War Victims Fund provided $4,350,000 for orthotics, prosthetics, and victim assistance to help Sri Lankan victims of war. The U.S. Department of Defense also provided training and equipment support.

In FY2010, PM/WRA spent $4.4 million to sustain clearance operations as follows:

• The HALO Trust (HALO)—$1,350,000 to deploy manual and mechanical demining teams

• Danish Deming Group—$700,000 to deploy manual demining teams

Fondation Suisse de Déminage (Swiss Foundation for Mine Action)—$1,017,000 to deploy manual teams and one mechanical support team

• MAG (Mines Advisory Group)—$850,000 for the deployment of manual and mechanical demining teams

• SLA—$500,000 to purchase equipment to support host-nation capacity

USAID also provided $300,000 to support a program to increase employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. The program conducts information and awareness sessions for potential employers and identifies people with disabilities, including war victims, who want jobs.

In addition, in FY2010, the U.S. Department of Defense’s Humanitarian Demining Research and Development Program, in partnership with HALO, began an operational field evaluation of rollers on a HALO-owned front-loader. The equipment, which is valued at $60,000, will be used in conjunction with mechanically excavated breach lanes for hazardous areas to be resettled by IDPs. Additional technology valued at $220,000, including an improved backhoe with area preparation and reduction and clearance attachments, will be put in use in 2011. To learn more about the U.S. Department of Defense’s Humanitarian Demining Program, visit www.humanitarian-demining.org.

Tajikistan

Date: 2011 Description: This area in Shuroobod district, Tajikistan, is perfect for mechanical demining machines and very difficult for manual clearance.  © Photo courtesy of Parviz Mavlonkulov
This area in Shuroobod district, Tajikistan, is perfect for mechanical demining machines and very difficult for manual clearance. Photo courtesy of Parviz Mavlonkulov.

Tajikistan is contaminated in four main regions: the northwest border with Uzbekistan, the southeast border with Afghanistan, the Garm Central Valley Region, and the eastern border with China. Since Tajikistan is 93 percent mountainous territory, the agricultural threat caused by landmines and explosive remnants of war is a serious threat to the country’s social and economic development.

The Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) initiated a program in Tajikistan in 2010. In FY2010, PM/WRA provided more than $2 million in grants to support mine-action programs in Tajikistan through its implementing partner Fondation Suisse de Déminage (Swiss Foundation for Mine Action or FSD). These programs include the following:

• FSD—$867,733 to conduct weapons and ammunition disposal, which included the training, equipment, and deployment of two teams able to destroy and/or relocate explosive ordnance and light weapons to secure sites.

• FSD—$1,610,657 to conduct a cross-border mine-action project between Afghanistan and Tajikistan. This program provided new equipment and medical supplies for the establishment of a clinic, the employment of more than 20 locals, and the clearance of more than 30,000 square meters in border minefields.

Also in FY2010, the U.S. Department of Defense’s Humanitarian Demining Research and Development (HD R&D) Program, in partnership with the Tajik Ministry of Defense, Tajikistan Mine Action Centre and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, began an evaluation of the Mini MineWolf, a remote-controlled earth-tilling system capable of clearing anti-personnel and anti-tank landmines. The assistance, valued at $1.2 million, included support to operate and maintain the system. To learn more about the U.S. Department of Defense’s Humanitarian Demining Program, visit www.humanitarian-demining.org.

Thailand

Thailand is contaminated by anti-personnel landmines, explosive remnants of war (ERW), unexploded ordnance, and victim-activated improvised explosive devices, particularly near its borders with Burma, Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Malaysia. For example, the 700-kilometer Thai-Cambodia border is heavily contaminated with unexploded artillery, mortar shells, and caches of grenades and other assorted ammunition left behind by Cambodian non-state actors in the 1980s and 1990s. Though the exact amount of mined areas is unknown, in 2001, a Landmine Impact Survey estimated the mine/ERW contamination at 2,557 square kilometers and affecting more than 500,000 people in 530 communities in 27 provinces.

In 2009, Thailand claimed 500 square kilometers still remained to be cleared, but revised estimates in 2010 suggested an increased amount of suspect land remains.

In FY2010, the U.S. Department of Defense’s Humanitarian Demining Research and Development Program partnered with the Thailand Mine Action Centre to continue operational field evaluations of several mechanical technologies in Thailand. The technologies include the small remote-controlled Peco, Beaver, and Tempest, and the large-class Survivable Demining Tractor and Uni-Disk Excavator. Valued at $1.5 million, these technologies are used for vegetation clearance and area preparation. Since 2001, the machines have collectively cleared vegetation from more than 6.3 million square meters of suspected hazardous land. To learn more about the U.S. Department of Defense’s Humanitarian Demining Program, visit www.humanitarian-demining.org.

Vietnam

Date: 2011 Description: MAG deminer clears vegetation with the rear boom of a backhoe to open areas for follow-on detection in Vietnam.  © Photo courtesy of Charles Chichester/HD R&D Program
MAG deminer clears vegetation with the rear boom of a backhoe to open areas for follow-on detection in Vietnam. Photo courtesy of Charles Chichester/HD R&D Program.

A series of conflicts involving France, Japan, and the United States from World War II through the early 1970s resulted in heavy explosive remnants of war (ERW) contamination in Vietnam. Conflicts with Cambodia and China in the late 1970s also resulted in the placement of landmines. The areas of Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, and Quang Tri are the most ERW-affected provinces. ERW also affects Vietnam’s border region with Laos, an area the U.S. intensively bombed during the Vietnam War in an effort to interdict North Vietnamese troops and supplies.

The Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) has encouraged mine-action organizations to use the findings of the PM/WRA-funded Landmine Impact Survey (LIS) in Vietnam by mandating that its grantees in Vietnam seek survey results before commencing projects. The final report of the six-province LIS was released in July 2009 and provides Vietnam and the donor community with vital information regarding the impact of landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) upon communities. Vietnam’s Ministry of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs released a report in 2000 stating that UXO and landmines were responsible for killing 38,849 people and injuring 65,852 between 1975 and 2000. International observers have reported more than 1,600 casualties since 1999. In 2009 there were 32 new landmine/ERW casualties reported in Vietnam.

In FY2010, PM/WRA provided $3.78 million in funding for humanitarian mine and UXO action as follows:

• MAG (Mines Advisory Group)—$1.7 million to support ongoing mobile ERW clearance in Quang Binh province

• PeaceTrees Vietnam—$499,000 for several clearance projects, including mobile explosive ordnance disposal team operations in Quang Tri province

• Golden West Humanitarian Foundation—$400,000 to provide training and equipment in advanced explosive ordnance disposal techniques to the Centre for Bomb and Mine Disposal Technology (BOMICEN) and the Vietnam Bomb and Mine Action Centre (VBMAC)

• Clear Path International—$350,000 for victims’ assistance

• Catholic Relief Services (CRS)—$250,000 for victims’ assistance

• Norwegian People’s Aid—$248,000 for data-management training for the VBMAC

• Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation/International Center—$207,000 for managerial and technical advice and assistance to BOMICEN and VBMAC

• Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF/Project RENEW) —$129,000 for clearance operations

The U.S. Agency for International Development’s Leahy War Victims Fund provided $750,000 each in FY2010 to two programs in Vietnam: CRS and Vietnam Assistance for the Handicapped. CRS introduced a comprehensive model of education and vocational training for children and youth with disabilities as well as advanced information technology technical training for Vietnamese with disabilities in two colleges in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam Assistance for the Handicapped implemented a program to develop national laws and policies benefitting persons with disabilities (PWD), enforce existing laws and policies, support PWD’s organizations, and test an integrated service delivery approach to inclusive vocational training and employment.

Also in FY2010, the U.S. Department of Defense’s Humanitarian Demining Research and Development (HD R&D) Program, in partnership with MAG, continued an operational field evaluation of vegetation cutters. Norwegian People’s Aid, in partnership with the VVMF’s Project RENEW, evaluated an armored excavator in area preparation and clearance roles. Total assistance to Vietnam from HD R&D is valued at $275,000. To learn more about the U.S. Department of Defense’s Humanitarian Demining Program, visit www.humanitarian-demining.org.



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