United States Ambassador to Georgia John Bass participated in a ceremony on December 10, 2009 with Georgian Defense Minister Nodar Kharshiladze, Governor of Shida Kartli region Lado Vardzelashvili, and the HALO Trust marking the completion of explosive remnants of war (ERW) clearance in Mghvrekisi Village, Gori District, and throughout the Shida Kartli region, which were littered with unexploded ordnance following the August 2008 conflict between Russia and Georgia.
Since 2008, the Department of State has provided HALO with $6.7 million for the clearance of landmines and explosive remnants of war throughout Georgia, including $4.3 million for clearance activities in Shida Kartli. Immediately following cessation of hostilties, HALO (http://www.halotrust.org/) began an emergency survey of the extent of ERW contamination and provided risk education to schools and the greater community.
As a result of HALO's work, 3,781 items of explosive ordnance, including 1,765 unexploded cluster munitions, were destroyed in Shida Kartli region, and 8,407 acres of land was returned to productive use. As part of the ceremony, Ambassador Bass unveiled a stone marker in honor of the clearance event.
The United States is a world leader in conventional weapons destruction and humanitarian mine action efforts, providing more than $1.5 billion in assistance to nearly 50 countries since 1993. To learn more about the State Department's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement's conventional weapons destruction programs, visit www.state.gov/t/pm/wra.