Europe covers approximately 3.94 million square miles and is home to 11 percent of the world’s population. Poorly stored and deteriorating munitions and explosive remnants of war pose a serious threat to civilian safety in many European countries, especially in the southeast where several countries experienced conflict following the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the break-up of Yugoslavia. Military depots housing dangerous and unstable munitions in the region increasingly pose a serious threat to civilians due to residential encroachment. However, the threat posed by landmines and explosive remnants of war has been dramatically reduced due to the efforts of the United States, other donor nations, nongovernmental organizations, and the affected countries themselves to clear the landmine and other explosive hazards remaining from regional conflicts and from the two World Wars. Many formerly mine-affected European countries have been rendered free from the humanitarian impact of landmines (“impact free”).
Albania’s stockpiles of deteriorating munitions and its landmine and explosive remnants of war (ERW) stem from nearly five decades of rule by Enver Hoxha. During his regime, Hoxha accumulated massive stockpiles of foreign munitions. In the late 1990s, during a governmental transition, widespread looting of military depots led to the scattering of small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) and abandoned ordnance throughout Albania. In addition, during the conflict between Kosovo and Yugoslavia, landmines, ERW, and unexploded ordnance (UXO) were generated along the country’s northeastern border, further threatening the local population and regional development.
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 almost $2.4 million through the NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency (NAMSA) and the Slovenian-based International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance (ITF). These funds were used for demining, the destruction of excess SA/LW, including man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS), physical security and stockpile management, and the clean-up of the Gërdec ammunition depot, which exploded in 2008 causing severe and lingering effects on the local civilian population.
At the end of the 2009 demining season, Albania declared that it had achieved mine-free status and successful completion of its Convention on the Prohibition, Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction Article 5 obligations in Cartagena, Colombia at the Convention’s Second Review Conference. This achievement was made possible in large part by the strong funding support provided by the United States to the Albanian Humanitarian Mine Action Program since its inception in 2001.
In FY2010, PM/WRA provided $6.9 million to Albania for conventional weapons destruction activities, and $167,704 for landmine and ERW survivors programs as follows:
• ArmorGroup North America—$2.9 million (which in turn was subcontracted to Sterling International) to destroy excess and deteriorating munitions
• ITF—$2 million (subcontracted to Sterling International) to continue clean-up activities at the Gërdec depot
• NAMSA—$2 million to conduct munitions demilitarization in Mijekes
• ITF—$167,704 for a landmine and ERW survivors program
Also in FY2010, U.S. European Command Humanitarian Mine Action (USEUCOM HMA) conducted a train-the-trainer Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Level 1 course for 33 Albanian Armed Forces (AAF) EOD Technicians. An EOD Level 2 course is slated to start in the summer of 2011. In addition, USEUCOM conducted two missions to train 33 AAF EOD technicians in self first aid, buddy aid, first responder, and casualty evacuation procedures, and to train 15 AAF medics, nurses, and doctors in tactical combat casualty care, casualty evacuation emergent patient care, and casualty evacuation planning and infrastructure development.
The Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) reports that landmines have caused 1,400 casualties since the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict began in 1988. Additionally, abandoned Soviet munitions stockpiles and unexploded ordnance (UXO) pose a significant threat to local populations. According to a Landmine Impact Survey (LIS), 18 out of 65 districts in Azerbaijan are affected by landmines and UXO. Over half of these affected communities are located in the Fizuli region in the western region of Azerbaijan near Nagorno-Karabakh and in Agstafa in the northwest near a former Soviet army base. From FY2000–FY2010, 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 $20 million for clearance, training, and capacity building for ANAMA. This funding also allowed for the expansion of manual, mechanical, and mine-detection dog (MDD) clearance teams.
In FY2010, PM/WRA invested $893,000 to support continued clearance activities as follows:
• ANAMA—$365,000 to support a seven-man team that was responsible for implementation of humanitarian demining operations with an emphasis on safe environmental conditions for local populations in and around water sources such as rivers, springs, wells, and irrigation canals that are currently unusable due to the existing threat
• ANAMA—$388,000 to support the procurement of new equipment which will be used to implement humanitarian demining operations and provide safe environmental conditions for local populations
• International Eurasia Press Fund (IEPF)—$80,000 to construct additional training facilities for its Vocational Training Center in order to benefit and train more people who have been victims of conflict
• IEPF—$60,000 to develop a two-hectare parcel of land donated by the local Terter authorities to IEPF for an agricultural nursery to train farmers in good agricultural practices and promote advancement of agriculture
Bosnia and Herzegovina
As a result of the breakup of the Republic of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is the most landmine- and explosive remnants of war (ERW)-affected country in the Balkans.
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 almost $16 million to Southeast European countries for humanitarian mine action and the destruction of excess and deteriorating small arms and light weapons (SA/LW), including man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS) and munitions. As a result of this funding, the Southeast Europe Mine Detection Dog Center in BiH has become self-supporting, and 5,964 MANPADS have been destroyed since 2003 in BiH alone.
In FY2010, PM/WRA contributed in excess of $5 million to the Slovenia-based International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance (ITF), with more than $3.8 million being used to continue humanitarian mine-action and Landmine Technical Survey. In addition, ITF subcontracted $1.15 million to Sterling International to destroy excess and deteriorating munitions. Also in FY2010, PM/WRA provided $75,000 to the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo to support the deployment of a National Guard unit from the state of Vermont to verify the complete destruction of 30,000 aged M-16 assault rifles that were excess to BiH’s needs. This weapons-destruction project was also generously supported by the United Nations Development Programme.
Croatia sets aside more of its annual national budget for domestic humanitarian mine-action activities than any other landmine-affected country worldwide. It remains the second-most mine-affected country in Southeast Europe despite having the strongest national mine-action program.
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 almost $16 million to Southeast European countries for mine action, and the safe destruction of excess and deteriorating stocks of small arms and light weapons (SA/LW), including man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS) and munitions. In Croatia, this led to the destruction of 929 MANPADS that were excess to the country’s security needs.
In FY2010, PM/WRA, using the Slovenia-based International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance (ITF) as its regional implementing partner, invested more than $2.13 million in the Croatian Mine Action Centre’s humanitarian mine-action and Technical Survey projects to once again enable safe farming and the resettlement of lands cleared of landmines. In addition, PM/WRA provided the ITF $1.69 million for various regional initiatives in Southeast Europe, including cross-border demining projects between Croatia and its neighbor, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
During World War I and World War II, sea mines and water-borne unexploded ordnance (UXO) were extensively placed throughout the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Finland. Consequently, any growth in maritime commerce or recreation runs the risk of increased accidents, especially around the Juminda, Pakri, and Tahkuna Peninsulas, the Prangli Islands, and the Strait of Irbe. Additionally, caches of ordnance buried under WWII Soviet and German battle lines threaten the stability and security of local populations, especially during construction projects. Overall, the Estonia National Demining Center estimates there are a total of 50 square kilometers affected by ordnance.
From FY1999–FY2009, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) invested $1,474,000 in humanitarian demining activities in Estonia.
In FY2010, PM/WRA spent $1,021,574 to purchase seven explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) robots and provide International Mine Action Standards EOD training to technicians to support humanitarian demining in Estonia. In addition, the U.S. Department of Defense’s European Command invested $175,000 in a U.S. Army EOD train-the-trainer program to train 18 Estonia Rescue Board EOD instructors on battle-area clearance using Vallon ferrous locators and sophisticated computer-plotting software.
Georgia is contaminated by landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) as a result of inter-ethnic and intra-national conflicts in South Ossetia from 1988–1993. While most of the remaining explosive remnants of war (ERW) are in the former separatist region of Abkhazia, where much of the fighting occurred during those conflicts, there are also minefields along Georgia’s international borders, in the Pankisi and Kodori Gorge, and around former Soviet military bases.The separatist conflicts in Georgia’s regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia remain unresolved. Periodic flare-ups in tension and violence culminated in a 5-day war in August 2008 between Georgia and Russia. Though the conflict resulted in additional ERW contamination, the war’s brevity contained this contamination to a relatively small part of the Shida Kartli region between the cities of Gori and Tskhinvali, and the land in undisputed Georgia has been returned to productive use. South Ossetia remains inaccessible. Additionally, 10 confirmed former Soviet Union-mined areas remain within undisputed Georgia. Like other former Soviet Union states, Georgia has a large stockpile of old and out-of-date weaponry.
With funding from the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA), The HALO Trust has cleared 97 percent of the minefields in Abkhazia, undertook ERW clearance in Shida Kartli, and has begun to clear the minefields in undisputed Georgia. Additionally, PM/WRA has provided assistance to DELTA for the destruction of Georgia’s aging and excess munitions. In FY2010, PM/WRA provided $2,845,000 in funding as follows:
• Information Management and Mine Action Programs (iMMAP)—$300,000 to facilitate turning over the capabilities, equipment, and information of the iMMAP-managed Explosive Remnants of War Coordination Center to the Government of Georgia
• HALO—$1.7 million to support the clearance and Technical Survey of Georgia’s highest priority Soviet “legacy minefields”
• HALO—$845,000 to complete the survey and clearance of landmines and ERW, including abandoned munitions in the former separatist region of Abkhazia
During the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, conflicts between Yugoslavia Security Forces and the Kosovo Liberation Army, along with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s airstrikes, led to a significant accumulation of landmines, booby traps, and explosive remnants of war (ERW) throughout much of Kosovo. After the end of the conflict in 1999, as part of its global mission to reduce the humanitarian threat of landmines and ERW, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) provided $15.5 million in aid to Kosovo through the Slovenia-based International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance (ITF).
As a result of international humanitarian mine-action assistance efforts, to which the U.S. was a major contributor, in 2001 the United Nations declared that landmines and ERW in Kosovo were eliminated for the most part. Some landmines and ERW in rural areas and remote locations continue to pose a threat. With considerable U.S. support, an indigenous demining force was created within the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) to further reduce the remaining residual explosive threat to the civilian population. Following Kosovo’s independence in 2008, the KPC shut down, and the indigenous demining force became part of the Kosovo Security Force (KSF).
In FY2010, PM/WRA provided nearly $1.1 million through the ITF to support a broad array of clearance-related operations in Kosovo. These activities included training the KSF in the integration of mine-detection dog (MDD) teams into manual clearance operations and funding support for residual clearance operations by two international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)—Mine Action and Training (MAT) Mondial and The HALO Trust. This sponsorship also included MDD support of clearance operations by the KSF and MAT Mondial, as well as quality assurance/quality control measures conducted by the Kosovo Mine Action Center, and mine-risk education and survivors assistance projects provided by the local NGO, Center for Promotion of Education.
The Republic of Lithuania remains affected by some scattered landmines and unexploded ordnance left from combat operations between German and Soviet forces during World War II. Though there are no known minefields at present, explosive remnants of war are still occasionally found. Lithuania possesses some stocks of arms and munitions that it considers excess to its national security needs.
In FY2010, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) allocated $500,000 in assistance to the Lithuanian Ministry of National Defense for a 2011 project to begin the process of destroying their excess conventional weapons and munitions.
During World Wars I and II, Macedonia was affected by landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW), particularly along its southern border with Greece. Additionally, during clashes between government security forces and ethnic Albanian insurgents in 2001, Macedonia was contaminated with mines and ERW along its borders with Kosovo and Albania. While Macedonia achieved landmine impact-free status in September 2006, thanks in part to United States’ assistance, some contamination from unexploded ordnance (UXO) remains underwater in Lake Ohrid and in Lake Dojran.
In FY2010, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) invested $127,841 in Macedonia. The Republic of Macedonia Protection and Rescue Directorate received $13,869 of this funding for technical diving equipment to help remove underwater UXO. The remaining $113,972 was used to clear UXO in Lake Ohrid, provide diver training and conduct monitoring oversight. Altogether, U.S. assistance contributed to the safe removal and destruction of 3,300 pieces of UXO weighing a total of 7.2 tons.
After years of United States support to Montenegro for clearance of landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) dating back to World War I, underwater mines from World War II, large amounts of jettisoned artillery shells, unexploded ordnance (UXO), and NATO airstrikes in the 1990s, the country is largely free of mines and UXO. However, large stocks of excess and deteriorating small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) and munitions needing disposal remain.
In FY2007 and FY2008, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) provided nearly $2.5 million for SA/LW and ammunition destruction, including the destruction of 1,500 man-portable air defense systems in FY2008. In FY2009, PM/WRA provided $784,000 for SA/LW and sea mine destruction, as well as torpedo demilitarization and national stockpile security upgrades.
In FY2010, PM/WRA provided $1,036,216 in assistance through a contract to ArmorGroup North America, which subcontracted with Sterling International, to continue conventional weapons and munitions destruction programs. Also in FY2010, PM/WRA provided more than $2 million to NATO’s Maintenance and Supply Agency to conduct munitions destruction in Montenegro. In addition, PM/WRA granted $150,000 to the Slovenia-based International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance for equipment support to Montenegro’s Regional Center for Underwater Demining (RCUD). This contribution enabled the RCUD to execute the clearance of some underwater UXO on the Macedonian side of Lake Ohrid as part of a separate PM/WRA humanitarian initiative.
Serbia suffered contamination from landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) during the violent dissolution of the Republic of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Most of the mined areas were on Serbia’s border with Croatia. In 1999, NATO aircraft struck selected targets in Serbia in order to stop the ethnic cleansing within Kosovo. As a result, more ERW contamination, including unexploded cluster munitions, affected those targeted areas in Serbia.
Serbia and Montenegro dissolved their state union in June 2006. In 2007, as part of its global mission to reduce the humanitarian impact of landmines and ERW, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) began to use the Slovenia-based International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance (ITF) as an implementing partner for ERW clearance and conventional weapons destruction (CWD) projects throughout Southeast Europe, including Serbia. The regional CWD projects have comprised the destruction of excess and aging small arms and light weapons, including in some cases excess man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS), and excess and dangerously deteriorating munitions, as well as arms depot security upgrades, in order to increase accountability and security for those arms and munitions that are still deemed necessary for the host nations’ security.
In FY2010, PM/WRA contributed more than $1.48 million to the ITF for battle-area clearance, particularly the safe clearance of unexploded cluster munitions in Serbia, as well as ERW-risk awareness. In addition, $6,500 of the ITF contribution was used to provide diver training to enable the Serbs to safely identify and clear underwater UXO in Serbia. That training was conducted by the Regional Center for Underwater Demining that is based in Montenegro.
Ukraine is working to destroy excess stockpiles of small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) and munitions under a U.S.-led NATO Partnership for Peace (PfP) project. Seventeen donor countries (in addition to the United States) and the European Union have made financial contributions to the project. The countries include: Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.
This is one of the largest weapons and munitions destruction projects in history, and it represents the largest PfP project undertaken by NATO. The project is in response to Ukraine’s request for help in eliminating 133,000 tons of munitions and 1.5 million SA/LW. The stockpiles, mainly dating from the Soviet era, pose a potential proliferation risk and are a threat to public safety and the environment. The original proposal envisioned a four-phase project lasting a projected 12 years and costing approximately $27 million in donor contributions, with Ukraine providing most of the operational and in-kind demilitarization costs. Phase I will cost donors a total of $14.5 million, of which the United States contributed $9.032 million through 2010. Phase I includes plans to destroy 15,000 tons of munitions, 400,000 SA/LW, and 1,000 man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS). This ongoing project is executed by the NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency on behalf of donor states.
Ammunition destruction began in late 2009 and SA/LW destruction restarted in December 2009. In FY2010, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) contributed $2.59 million toward SA/LW destruction in Ukraine, resulting in 7,250 tons of ammunition and 113,900 SA/LW being destroyed. A total of 11,750 tons of ammunition and 256,293 weapons have been destroyed under this project as of December 31, 2010. Phase I was completed in spring 2011. Consultations for Phase II began in 2010.
Also in FY2010, U.S. European Command Humanitarian Mine Action (USEUCOM HMA) deployed a U.S. Army explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) train-the-trainer team to Sebastopol, Crimea to train 17 Ukraine Ministry of Emergency Situations (MoES) EOD instructors in battle-area clearance. USEUCOM HMA also purchased Vallon ferrous locators and modernized personal protective equipment, a value of $155,000, which were given to MoES. Training and equipment provided by USEUCOM HMA allowed for the removal of approximately 3,000 metric tons of ERW buried in the collapsed Inkerman Adits caves.