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 You are in: Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security > Bureau of Political-Military Affairs > Bureau of Political-Military Affairs Releases > Bureau of Political-Military Affairs Fact Sheets > 2003
Fact Sheet

Washington, DC
July 2, 2003

The World's Landmine Problem and the U.S. Humanitarian Demining Program: A Timeline

The Landmine Threat
  • There are more than 100 landmine and/or unexploded ordnance (UXO) affected countries in the world. Approximately 20 of these are heavily-affected, including Angola, Afghanistan, Croatia, Egypt, and Cambodia.
  • More than a dozen countries produce landmines, including Cuba, Egypt, Singapore, and Vietnam; and almost 20 countries or rebel groups use landmines, including some countries that produce them.
  • As estimated 45-50 million landmines infest at least 12 million sq. km of land around the world. These landmines:
    • Kill or maim a reported 10,000 people annually;
    • Create millions of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs);
    • Prevent hundreds of thousands of sq. km of agricultural land being used;
    • Deny thousands of km of roads for travel;
    • Create food scarcities, causing malnutrition and starvation;
    • Interrupt health care, increasing sickness and disease;
    • Inflict long-term psychological trauma on landmine survivors;
    • Hinder economic development;
    • Undermine political stability.

Humanitarian Mine Action: The Humanitarian Response to the Threat

  • The United States first became involved in humanitarian mine action 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 manage it.
  • In October 1997, the United States 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, known today as the Office of Mine Action Initiatives and Partnerships.
  • Funding for the U.S. Humanitarian Demining Program increased dramatically in FY 1998 to $71 million, seven times the FY 1993 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 is the largest humanitarian mine action program in the world, currently providing assistance for humanitarian mine action to more than 40 countries, including 15 of the most mine-affected. In FY 1997, 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 FY 2002 and $10 million in FY 2003.
  • In December 2001, the United States and the Government of Mozambique agreed to establish a Quick Reaction Demining Force (QRDF), based in Mozambique, to respond to humanitarian demining crises around the world. The QRDF has been deployed to Sri Lanka and Sudan, and is currently active in Iraq.
  • Since FY 1993, the United States has provided more than $700 million to support humanitarian mine action. Other major donors include: the European Union, 12 European countries, Canada, and Australia.
  • The United States provides funds to all five countries that are the largest recipients of humanitarian mine action from the international community: Cambodia, Afghanistan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Mozambique and Laos.
  • Key non-governmental actors, that either assist countries develop an indigenous demining capability or clear mines for them, include several departments of the United Nations, more than 20 international organizations, NGOs, and commercial firms.
  • The results of humanitarian mine action activities are impressive and encouraging: casualty rates are coming down; refugees and IDPs 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.
  • After a decade of concerted, concentrated humanitarian mine action, the United States and other donors in the International Community are seeing once mine-infested countries declare themselves mine-safe, while other mine-affected countries have developed an indigenous demining capability, which will allow them to become mine-safe in the near and not too distant future.

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