2015 To Walk the Earth in Safety: Georgia

Bureau of Political-Military Affairs

Date: 2015 Description: HALO clearance group at the Udabno firing range in eastern Georgia near the Azeri border.  © Photo courtesy of the Department of State.

A series of inter-ethnic and intra-national conflicts from 1988 to 1993 left significant landmine and UXO contamination near the administrative boundary lines in the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions, as well as around former Soviet military bases in Georgia. Furthermore, in 2008, a week of fighting between Georgian and Russian forces in South Ossetia contaminated an additional 20 million square meters (7.7 square miles) of land with cluster munitions between the cities of Gori and Tskhinvali. From October 2009 to January 2010, NPA conducted a general mine-action assessment, which identified eight suspected hazardous areas and seven confirmed hazardous areas in 13 districts. By 2012, HALO cleared five of these areas, and is currently clearing a sixth area. With PM/WRA support, HALO declared all 336 known minefields in the Abkhazia region mine impact-free in November 2011. Stockpiles of deteriorating, old Soviet munitions also remain a threat to local populations.

From FY1998 through FY2014, the United States invested more than $32 million in CWD programs in Georgia. In FY2014, the U.S. government contributed $667,000 for CWD in Georgia.

The Department of State supported the work of the following implementing partners:

• OSCE and the United Nations cleared UXO at the Vartsikhe military base near Kutaisi in western Georgia.

• HALO continued clearance of UXO at the former Udabno Soviet firing range, which is also home to several historic monasteries and thus attracts tourists to UXO-contaminated land.

PM/WRA is concluding CWD assistance to Georgia in 2015 with the final year of support aimed at improving internal capacity to manage CWD-related issues and maximizing clearance and stockpile reduction efficiency.

With Department of Defense funding, USEUCOM deployed military EOD personnel to conduct landmine UXO disposal training in Georgia, including UXO and landmine risk reduction; survey, marking, and mapping of landmine and UXO contaminated areas; landmine and UXO disposal; quality assurance and control; and medical first-responder training with an emphasis on blast-trauma injuries. It also included program assessment visits to monitor and improve all aspects of the UXO disposal program. The OHDACA appropriation funded humanitarian mine action program activities, supplies, equipment, and services.