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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2003 > February
Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
February 20, 2003


U.S. Department of State Hails Establishment of Joint U.S.-Canadian Privately-backed Honduran Rehabilitation Center for War Victims

A partnership fostered by the U.S. Department of State between the Polus Center for Social and Economic Development, a U.S. non-governmental organization, and Grapes for Humanity, a private Canadian charitable foundation, led to the creation of a center in Choluteca, Honduras, devoted to treating landmine survivors and other victims of conflict-related health problems. The Vida Nueva (New Life) center opens its doors today, February 20, 2003.

Vida Nueva is modeled after the successful Walking Unidos center in Leon, Nicaragua, founded by the Polus Center, which has been fitting prosthetic limbs and providing community-based rehabilitation to Nicaraguans injured by landmines and suffering from other ailments linked to conflict since 1997.

"This noble venture between two of our private partners will provide much-needed services for injured victims of conflict in Honduras, develop indigenous medical and management skills, and has already inspired friendships and cooperation between Honduran and Nicaraguan citizens and officials," said James Lawrence, Director of the Office of Mine Action Initiatives and Partnerships in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, witnessing the opening of the Vida Nueva center. The Office of Mine Action Initiatives and Partnerships contributed a cast cutter to the center.

"We are grateful for the support provided by the U.S. Department of State and Grapes for Humanity which has enabled us to accelerate our plans to launch the Vida Nueva center in Choluteca," said Michael Lundquist, Executive Director for the Polus Center.

"When I visited Nicaragua and Honduras with Jim Lawrence in 2000, I became convinced that Grapes for Humanity, which provides assistance to landmine survivors and their families, should assist the Polus Center in its new venture in Honduras," added Grapes for Humanity founder Arlene Willis.

Honduras is infested by approximately 15,000 to 35,000 landmines left from past conflicts with its neighbors. The mines are planted along Honduras’ borders with El Salvador and Nicaragua. In 1998, floods caused by Hurricane Mitch shifted previously marked minefields, complicating the clearance process.

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, through its Office of Mine Action Initiatives and Partnerships, encourages private sector support for mine action. The Polus Center and Grapes for Humanity are but two of the private organizations that work with the Office of Mine Action Initiatives and Partnerships. The Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ Office of Humanitarian Demining Programs is responsible for managing U.S. humanitarian mine action assistance bilaterally to 39 countries at present. However, U.S. mine action assistance to Central America, including Honduras and Nicaragua, is channeled through the Organization of American States and Pan American Health Organization. To learn more about the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ mine action activities, visit http://www.state.gov/t/pm/.

 

Released on February 20, 2003

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