The United States’ enduring Conventional Weapons Destruction (CWD) priorities for South and Central Asia are to prevent illicit transfers of small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) and unplanned explosions at munitions sites (UEMS) through physical security and stockpile management (PSSM) programs, and to clear legacy landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). These explosive hazards still cause injuries and deaths and prevent the safe and productive use of land. To combat this lingering threat and promote increased economic activity, the United States is clearing landmines, cluster munitions, abandoned improvised explosive devices (IED) and other explosive remnants of war (ERW) in Afghanistan; supporting regional security and building national capacity through a military stockpile reduction initiative in the Kyrgyz Republic; clearing post-conflict landmines, IEDs and other ERW in Sri Lanka; and removing legacy landmines, stockpiled munitions, and other ERW in Tajikistan. Since 1993, the United States has invested more than $659 million in CWD funding to support extensive efforts to rid South and Central Asia of the vestiges of past conflicts and internal strife and legacy stockpiles of conventional ammunition.
The Mine Action Program for Afghanistan (MAPA) was established in 1988 and is the oldest, most mature mine action program in the world. The United States provides operational support and assistance through Afghan and international implementing partners to reduce, eliminate, or secure at-risk conventional weapons such as landmines, unexploded ordnance, SA/LW, man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), and excess, obsolete, or unserviceable ammunition and munition stockpiles. These conventional weapons and ERW threaten civilians and enable insurgent-related violence. The CWD program enhances stockpile security, increases local capabilities through explosive ordnance risk education and provides support and assistance for landmine victims.
From 1993 to 2020, the United States has invested more than $537 million in CWD programs in Afghanistan. Highlights from 2020 include the following:
- Directorate for Mine Action Coordination (DMAC) is the national mine action center and manages all aspects of humanitarian mine action throughout Afghanistan. DMAC continues to improve oversight in all the regional offices and effectively coordinates all mine action activities across the country. In 2020, DMAC increased oversight of its regional offices by recruiting seven new regional managers. This improved DMAC’s quality management, coordination, and oversight of regional mine action.
- The HALO Trust (HALO) destroys excess, obsolete, and unserviceable SA/LW, conducts demining, explosive ordnance disposal, battle area clearance and community-based demining operations throughout Afghanistan. In 2020, HALO continued Weapons and Ammunition Disposal (WAD) operations and assessments throughout central, western, and northern Afghanistan. HALO also deployed eight CWD teams that responded to emergency call-outs to identify, secure, and destroy SA/LW, ammunition stockpiles, and other explosive hazards. HALO continued clearance operations in Kabul, Baghlan, Balkh, Laghman, Panjsher, and Samangan Provinces on high-priority tasks selected by DMAC in coordination with NPA. Additionally, HALO conducted PSSM tasks to secure and destroy excess or poorly-protected SA/LW and ammunition in Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif cities.
- International Trust Fund for Enhancing Human Security (ITF) provides operational and organizational support to increase Afghan Government ownership through national capacity building and coordination activities. In 2020, ITF continued their support of DMAC with emphasis on developing host-nation capacity through training and program management skills improvement.
- Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) provides third-party monitoring and oversight of US-funded explosive clearance efforts in Afghanistan. NPA provides regular situation reports on all US-funded CWD projects in the country. They also monitor, train, and assist Afghan implementing partners with award management, submissions, and documentation. In 2020, NPA assisted in monitoring and evaluating more than 225 mine clearance sites, seven Afghan NGOs, and two international NGOs.
- Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) assists with national capacity development and the planning, coordination, and presentation of operational and organizational development workshops. In 2020, GICHD held a five-day Landmine Release Study and Survey Workshop to support DMAC that enabled Afghan nationals and international representatives to discuss, develop, and standardize landmine survey and hazard area release procedures.
- Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) conducts cross-border survey and demining operations in northern Badakhshan province, Afghanistan. In 2020, the FSD returned 216,350 square meters (53 acres), destroying 829 AP mines, 70 UXO and 204 SAA and continues clearance operations on high-priority tasks selected by DMAC in coordination with NPA.
- Afghan Amputee Bicyclists for Rehabilitation and Recreation (AABRAR) assists with the rehabilitation and socio-economic integration of persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups into the community. In 2020, AABRAR continued their support of physical rehabilitation centers in Farah and Paktia Provinces that provide physiotherapy, orthotics, and prosthetics services for Farah, Nimroz, Ghor, Paktia, Khost, and Ghazni Provinces. AABRAR also referred beneficiaries to other services addressing health, social inclusion assistance, and economic reintegration through DMAC and the wider survivors assistance network. Additionally, AABRAR provided disability awareness, advocacy, and community mobilization to persons with disabilities and their families.
- Accessibility Organization for Afghan Disabled (AOAD) provides victim assistance and rehabilitation through vocational rehabilitation training and physical accessibility measures. In 2020, AOAD continued to provide vocational skills and development training for landmine survivors and their immediate family members living with disabilities. The majority of these individuals rejoined the workforce as tailors, electricians and mobile phone repair. Additionally, AOAD implemented and managed physical accessibility measures and renovations that allow persons with disabilities to access and use public facilities and classrooms.
- Afghanistan Technical Consultants (ATC) conducts demining, explosive ordnance disposal, and battle area clearance operations in central and eastern Afghanistan. In 2020, ATC continued clearance operations in Kandahar, Baghlan, Kabul, Kunar, and Laghman Provinces on high-priority tasks selected by DMAC in coordination with NPA.
- Demining Agency for Afghanistan (DAFA) conducts demining, explosive ordnance disposal, battle area clearance, and community-based demining operations throughout Afghanistan. In 2020, DAFA continued clearance operations in Baghlan, Kandahar, Kapisa, and Paktya Provinces on high-priority tasks selected by DMAC in coordination with NPA.
- Development and Ability Organization (DAO) provides physical rehabilitation services and vocational training to landmine survivors and other persons with disabilities. In 2020, DAO concluded their program to provide physiotherapy, prosthetics, disability awareness, health education, and orthotic services to persons with disabilities throughout Afghanistan. Additionally, DAO provided rehabilitation services, repaired assistive devices, and referred mine/UXO survivors to appropriate medical, vocational, and educational services in Kunar and Uruzgan Provinces.
- Mine Clearance Planning Agency (MCPA) conducts demining, explosive ordnance disposal, battle area clearance and both technical and non-technical survey operations throughout Afghanistan. MCPA also conducts quality control/quality assurance and post-demining assessments. In 2020, MCPA continued non-technical surveys in 180 impacted communities within 26 UXO-contaminated districts throughout Afghanistan. Also, MCPA concluded clearance operations and released land in Logar Province, while continuing clearance in Baghlan and Nimroz Provinces on high-priority tasks selected by DMAC in coordination with NPA.
- Mine Detection Center (MDC) conducts demining, explosive ordnance disposal, battle area clearance and both technical and non-technical survey operations throughout Afghanistan. The MDC also manages the only Mine Detection Dog center in Afghanistan and central Asia. In 2020, MDC began clearance operations in Zhari district of Kandahar Province on high-priority tasks selected by DMAC in coordination with NPA.
The Kyrgyz Republic manages an aging and unserviceable legacy stockpile of explosive munitions and large caliber ordnance that has reached, or will soon reach, its manufacturers’ limit for safe storage, use and disposal.
These stockpiles pose a serious security threat due to their proximity to civilian populations, poor and inadequate storage conditions, insider theft and pilferage, deteriorating infrastructure and other challenges to PSSM. Unique to the Kyrgyz CWD program is strong cooperation with the State Defense Council of the Kyrgyz Republic (SDC KR) and its willingness to dispose of priority weapons such as man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) and Anti-tank Guided Missiles (ATGM).
Since 2011, the United States has provided over $3 million dollars to support operational and organizational development to the Kyrgyz Republic through PSSM, including disposal of SA/LW and conventional ammunition. Highlights from 2020 include the following:
- International Trust Fund for Enhancing Human Security (ITF): In 2020, the ITF coordinated with the Kyrgyz MOD to continue disposal of expired artillery ammunition, renovation of artillery ammunition storehouses, and to continue national capacity PSSM training and development through deployment of a Slovenian EOD expert. Through these efforts, the Kyrgyz MOD completed demilitarization of more than 45,000 pieces of large-caliber ammunition. These outcomes enhance the CWD program capacity in the Kyrgyz Republic and reduce the risk of unplanned explosions at military sites.
Landmines and UXO still contaminate Sri Lanka over a decade after the end of a 26-year armed conflict between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Contamination remains a critical impediment to the resettlement of displaced families and to socioeconomic development initiatives. This is particularly true as the government returns land previously controlled by the military and the widespread presence of mines and UXO pose an ongoing threat to returnees in these areas. According to the 2020 Landmine and Cluster Munitions Monitor, as of July 2018, approximately 25.8 million square meters (6,375 acres) of hazardous area remain.
Since 1995, the United States has invested more than $78 million in CWD funding for mine clearance, survey, risk education, PSSM, and capacity building in Sri Lanka.
Highlights from 2020 include the following:
- Mines Advisory Group (MAG) fields 44 manual demining teams and 26 mechanical clearance teams across Mannar, Trincomalee, and Vavuniya districts to clear landmines and other explosive hazards – restoring access to previously contaminated land for resettlement of internally displaced persons, and supporting economic development. MAG has undertaken a pilot project with U.S. funding to assist the Sri Lankan Armed Forces Engineer Brigade to better secure and account for their SA/LW through the construction and rehabilitation of 18 weapons storage facilities. Additionally, MAG is providing armory storekeeper and manager training to increase the safe handling, management, and storage of SA/LW. MAG continued to conduct surveys of newly-accessible areas and clear mines and other explosive hazards, restoring access to land for resettlement and development in Mannar, Trincomalee, and Vavuniya Districts.
- HALO is the largest demining operator in Sri Lanka, with over 1,000 staff operating in Jaffna, Kilinochchi, and Mullaitivu Districts and fielding 74 manual demining teams, 41 mechanical demining teams, and 3 survey/explosive ordnance disposal teams to support Sri Lankan efforts to return displaced families to their ancestral lands. In 2020, HALO released 279,300 square meters (69 acres) and provided risk education.
- Delvon Assistance for Social Harmony (DASH), Sri Lanka’s first indigenous demining NGO, deployed seven US-funded manual demining teams to clear mines and UXO to help resettle displaced families in Jaffna, Kilinochchi, and Mullaitivu Districts.
Like many Central Asian Republics, Tajikistan inherited an enormous stockpile of aging ammunition, including large-caliber ordnance and other explosives, following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Due to Tajikistan’s porous borders with Afghanistan, massive quantities of poorly-secured SA/LW and ammunition present a threat to national and regional security. Tajikistan also has extensive landmine contamination along its southern, western, and northern borders that stems from both its civil war in the 1990s and earlier Soviet attempts to prevent border crossings by Afghan militants and narcotics traffickers. During the civil war , Tajikistan’s Central Rasht Valley region was heavily contaminated with landmines, UXO and cluster munitions that continue to impede socioeconomic development of this fertile region. Explosive hazards limit access to valuable agricultural land and endanger border crossings, farming, wood-gathering, and grazing.
From 2005 to 2020, the United States invested more than $29 million in Tajikistan to support mine and UXO clearance, destruction of excess and aging munitions, PSSM of SA/LW, survivor assistance, and national capacity building of the Tajikistan National Mine Action Center.
Highlights from 2020 include the following:
- Tajikistan National Mine Action Center (TNMAC) was formally established in 2014 and is the National Mine Action Authority for the Republic of Tajikistan. TNMAC oversees the clearance, release and return of contaminated territory, provides for destruction of legacy, stockpiled munitions, raises awareness through explosive ordnance risk education, and assists landmine survivors and victims of explosive hazards in their recovery and rehabilitation. In 2020, TNMAC continued operational control and management of three demining teams and three non-technical survey teams that deployed throughout the Tajik-Afghan border region. Additionally, TNMAC continued to develop the capacity and capability of its mine action program with emphasis on information analysis, strategic planning, demining training, project development, and program management.
- Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) manages a Weapons and Ammunition Disposal (WAD) team that destroyed ten tons of excess and confiscated munitions. With Afghanistan’s agreement, FSD coordinates with TNMAC to access cross-border clearance sites in northern Afghanistan (Badakhshan Province) from Tajikistan, resulting in the clearance of 829 mines and 70 items of UXO and the release of 216,350 square meters (54 acres) in 2020.
- Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) continued deployment of two mixed-gender demining teams along the Tajik-Afghan Border and within the Central Rasht valley region (Talvidira district).
For more information on U.S. humanitarian demining and CWD programs, check out the latest edition of our annual report, To Walk the Earth in Safety.
For further information, please contact the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at PM-CPA@state.gov, and follow the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs on Twitter, @StateDeptPM.