State Department Grants Humanitarian Demining Assistance to Croatia

Following last week's public-private partnership mission to Croatia to learn more about the hazards posed by anti-personnel landmines, the Humanitarian Demining Program (HDP) office of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs will provide an additional $360,000 to support ongoing demining efforts in Croatia, in cooperation with the Croatian Government's Croatian Mine Action Center (CROMAC) and the Slovenian International Trust Fund, a regional demining program. (The United States provided Croatia with $1,692,200 in humanitarian demining assistance in FY 1999.)

The fact-finding mission was led by Jim Lawrence, Director of Public-Private Partnerships for the Office of the Special Representative of the President and Secretary of State for Global Humanitarian Demining (GHD), with participation by Pat Patierno, Director of HDP, William Wood, Director of the State Department's Office of the Geographer and Global Issues, and representatives from the U.S. private sector and non-governmental organizations. Roots of Peace coordinated the donation of funds, goods and services from FedEx, The North Face, Royal Robbins, and the Rotary Chapter of San Rafael, California, and participated in the visit. Roots of Peace also arranged for the participation of representatives from Autodesk, a California software company that is donating its software and related hardware to support mine action programs.

Three hundred thousand dollars of the grant will fund the development and purchase of the MRV3 demining flail engineered by the Croatian firm of Doking D.O.O. Ltd. The terms of the grant include demining approximately 60 hectares of land (150 acres) as recompense for the HDP funding.

Demining operations from this initiative are scheduled to commence in the spring. A second group of private sector donors, particularly ones representing the American wine industry, plans to visit Croatia later in the spring to build on the accomplishments of CROMAC and this first fact-finding group.

The Office of the Special Representative of the President and Secretary of State for Global Humanitarian Demining was established in 1997. It seeks to create conditions that will eliminate the threat of landmines to civilians around the world by the year 2010. GHD supports efforts in the U.S. and abroad to accelerate landmine detection and clearance programs, promote landmine awareness in affected nations, assist survivors of landmine accidents, enhance research and development of new demining technologies, and develop public-private partnerships to support these programs.

The U.S. Humanitarian Demining Program, established in 1993, aims to relieve human suffering and foster national and regional security, social and political stability, and economic development by reducing civilian landmine casualties through support for mine clearance training and operations, mine awareness, research and development, and assistance to landmine victims. The U.S. implements this program in cooperation with the host governments of mine-affected states and international agencies. Currently the U.S. has demining programs in nearly 30 countries as well as Kosovo and Northwest Somalia.

For further information, contact John Stevens in GHD at (202) 647-0676, or Matt Murphy in HDP at (202) 647-4350.