Humanitarian Mine Action: The landmine threat and the response to it

from US Department of State
Published on 09 Jul 2002
The following fact sheet entitled "Humanitarian Mine Action: The Landmine Threat and the Response to It" was issued by the State Department's Office of Humanitarian Demining Programs on July 9.

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U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
Office of Humanitarian Demining Programs
July 9, 2002


Humanitarian Mine Action: The Landmine Threat and the Response to It

(Photo of Seal that reads: So That Others May Walk the Earth in Safety, U.S. Humanitarian Demining Program)

There are more than 100 landmine and/or UXO-affected [unexploded ordnance] countries in the world. Approximately 20 of these (e.g. Angola, Afghanistan, Croatia, Egypt, Cambodia) are heavily affected.

More than a dozen countries produce landmines (e.g. Cuba, Egypt, Singapore, Vietnam). The U.S. has not produced landmines since 1996. Almost 20 countries or rebel groups (e.g. Angola s UNITA, Albania s NPA, Sudan s SPLA/M) use landmines, including some countries that produce them (e.g. Burma, India, Pakistan, Russia).

An estimated 45-50 million landmines infest at least 1.3 million square kilometers of land around the world. These landmines:

-- kill or maim a reported 10,000 people annually;

-- create millions of refugees or internally displaced persons;

-- prevent hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of agricultural land being used;

-- deny thousands of kilometers of roads for travel;

-- create food scarcities, causing malnutrition and starvation;

-- deny access to potable water, leading to water-borne diseases;

-- interrupt health care, increasing sickness and disease;

-- inflict long-term psychological trauma on landmine survivors;

-- hinder economic development; and

-- undermine political stability.

Humanitarian Mine Action: The Humanitarian Response to the Threat

-- The U.S. first became involved in humanitarian demining in 1988, when it sent a team to assess the landmine situation in Afghanistan.

-- The National Security Council established the U.S. Humanitarian Demining Program in October 1993 and formed an interagency working group (now the PCC Subgroup on Humanitarian Mine Action) to implement it.

-- In October 1997, the U.S. designated a Special Representative of the President and Secretary of State for Global Humanitarian Demining and initiated a program to foster public-private partnerships in humanitarian mine action.

-- Funding for the U.S. Humanitarian Demining Program increased dramatically in FY 98 to $71 million, seven times the FY 93 amount.

-- In June 1998, the Department of State established the Office of Humanitarian Demining Programs in its Bureau of Political-Military Affairs to manage the Program.

-- Today the U.S. Program provides assistance for humanitarian mine action to more than 40 countries, including 15 of the most mine-affected (e.g. Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia, Chad, Mozambique, Somalia, Thailand). In FY 97, there were only 13 countries in the Program.

-- In May 1998, Congress established a matching-donation fund in the amount of $28 million for the Slovenian International Trust Fund for demining and victim assistance in the Balkans. The Fund was replenished with an additional $14 million in 2002.

-- In December 2001, the U.S. and the Government of Mozambique agreed to establish a Quick Reaction Demining Force (QRDF), based in Mozambique, to respond quickly to humanitarian demining crises around the world. The QRDF stood up in September 2001, and has been deployed successfully since then to Sri Lanka and to Sudan.

-- Since FY 93, the U.S. has provided more than $600 million to support humanitarian mine action. Other major donors include: the EU ($151 million); 12 European countries (e.g. Norway ($107 million) and UK ($79 million)); Canada; and Australia.

-- The U.S. provides funds to all five countries that are the largest recipients of humanitarian mine action from the international community: Cambodia ($98 million); Afghanistan ($96 million); Bosnia ($95 million); Mozambique ($70 million); and Laos ($35 million).

-- Key non-governmental actors that either assist countries to develop an indigenous demining capability or clear mines for them include several departments of the United Nations, more than 20 international organizations and NGOs (e.g. the European Union, the Organization of American States, HALO Trust, Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation) and commercial firms, such as RONCO Consulting Corporation, Armor Group, and UXB International.

-- The results of U.S. and domestic and international public and private sector humanitarian mine action activities are impressive and encouraging: casualty rates are coming down; refugees and internally displaced persons are returning to their homes; agricultural land is being used once again; economic infrastructure is being restored; and holistic health care is being provided to landmine survivors.

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(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: