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Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
February 7, 2008


Roots of Peace Builds School on Former Afghan Battlefield with Contributions from American Students

A photograph of the new school taken in January 2008. [Photo courtesy of Gary Kuhn, Roots of Peace.]The U.S. Department of State salutes Roots of Peace, a non-governmental organization that turns minefields into productive farmland, for building a new school on a former battlefield near the Bagram air base in Afghanistan. The project was funded by 1 million pennies ($10,000) raised by American students through the “Roots of Peace Penny Campaign” (http://208.69.124.129/programs/penny-campaign/).

The school originally consisted of a few tents serving just 50 pupils after fighting between the Taliban and Northern Alliance destroyed the original building. Today, a new, sturdy 10-room school, certified by Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education, accommodates over 260 boys and girls (see photos at www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/pix/b/100089.htm).  Prior to construction, landmines and explosive remnants of war were cleared by The HALO Trust (www.halotrust.org) from the building site and from an adjoining plot of land through a generous contribution from Roots of Peace supporter Diane Disney Miller. A soccer field where children can play safely was built on that adjoining land with $10,000 provided by the U.S. Afghan Women’s Council Gift Fund. Roots of Peace’s Afghan employees also contributed their own funds to provide a well for the school.

Roots of Peace (www.rootsofpeace.org) is one of over 60 Public-Private Partner groups that collaborate with the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (www.state.gov/t/pm/wra) in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs to reinforce United States’ efforts around the world to clear landmines and explosive remnants of war, teach mine risk education, assist injured survivors of conflict, and destroy small arms, light weapons, and munitions that are excess to foreign countries’ needs. Roots of Peace continues to support the clearance of mines and explosive remnants of war and creation of agricultural livelihoods for some 50,000 Afghan farmers with the support of the United States government, European Union, and other donors.

Since 1993 the U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action Program, which includes the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, has spent over $170 million on humanitarian mine action in Afghanistan, clearing mines and explosive remnants of war from 106.26 square miles (275.21 square kilometers) to date, which has contributed to the safe resettlement of over 4.8 million internally displaced Afghans.

To learn about the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement’s Partnerships, which have helped the annual rate of reported casualties from landmines and all explosive remnants of war around the world drop to 5,759 in 2006, visit www.state.gov/t/pm/wra/partners/ and read its Safe Passage newsletters at www.state.gov/t/pm/wra/partners/c14838.htm.

2008/88


Released on February 7, 2008

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