Mine Action MESSENGER, June 2004PDF version
Released by the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
In This Issue:
SFLAG Landmine Awareness Festival in Florida
The South Florida Landmine Action Group (SFLAG) and People to People International, supported by the Mine Action Information Center at James Madison University and the U.S. Department of State, with generous assistance from the City of Miami, sponsored a Landmine Awareness Festival in January to showcase how the mine action community works to make the world safe from landmines. [full story]
Message from Special Representative Bloomfield: U.S. Government Presents New Landmine Policy
U.S. policy on landmines "offers new directions compared to past approaches to landmines. It ensures protection for both military forces and civilians alike, and continues U.S. leadership in humanitarian mine action -- those activities that contribute most directly toward eliminating the landmine problem and mitigating its effects on landmine survivors." [full story]
In an innovative initiative, the Humpty Dumpty Institute (HDI) received U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approval to fund mine clearance in Angola using proceeds generated by the sale of donated U.S. surplus powdered milk. [full story]
Landmines Blow!, a Chicago-based landmine awareness organization founded in August 2003, by Alison Bock, wants to educate people, especially students, about mine action and motivate them to help children in mine-affected countries. With Vice President José de Arteaga, Alison is developing and compiling interactive landmine education modules for an exciting educational experience to be presented to students throughout the United States. Landmines Blow! aims to have students identify a country of interest and then embark on fundraising projects to help in landmine removal, survivor assistance, humanitarian aid, and building schools while turning reclaimed minefields into playgrounds. To learn more about this new organization, visit www.landminesblow.org.
Kyleigh Kuhn, 16-year-old cofounder of "Pennies for Peace," addressed the United Nations International School’s annual conference at UN Headquarters in New York on March 5. She presented Ms. Nane Annan, wife of Secretary General Kofi Annan, with a check for $70,000, representing seven million pennies collected since the "Pennies" campaign began on September 11, 2003. On May 20, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell personally thanked "Pennies for Peace" for collecting the $70,000 and congratulated them for their contribution to mine action. The funds will help clear minefields so that schools and playing fields can be established for the children of Afghanistan. For more information on the Roots of Peace Penny Drive, visit www.rootsofpeace.org.
The Marshall Legacy Institute’s (MLI) inaugural Children Against the Landmine Problem (CHAMPS) initiative in September 2003, resulted in thousands of children in the State of Wyoming raising $14,000 to send a mine detecting dog to Sri Lanka in February. [full story]
Hayden Roberts, the current Frasure-Kreuzel-Drew Humanitarian Demining Fellow in PM/WRA, is a 2002 graduate of James Madison University (JMU). This prestigious fellowship, awarded to select JMU graduates, has brought 11 fellows to PM/WRA (and its predecessor office) since 1998. Hayden’s academic work with the University’s Mine Action Information Center (MAIC) sparked her interest in mine action. Since her arrival, Hayden has compiled updates for the fifth edition of To Walk the Earth in Safety, a publication chronicling the State Department’s humanitarian mine action program. She also has made presentations to a Rotary Club in White Plains, NY, and a student group in Boynton Beach, FL, as part PM/WRA’s annual support for Adopt-A-Minefield’s Night of 1,000 Dinners and helped staff PM/WRA’s exhibit stand at the National Council for the Social Studies annual conference in Chicago. This April, Hayden accompanied PM/WRA Program Manager Deborah Netland on a program review in Azerbaijan. We have enjoyed having Hayden here this year and wish her the best in her future career!
Clear Path International is a nonprofit organization that serves landmine accident survivors, their families, and their communities in Southeast Asia. On the eve of Clear Path International’s third anniversary last August, cofounder Imbert Matthee set out on a three-week journey through Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. [full story]
Grants and Cooperative Agreements
On April 13, 2004, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement requested grant applications (RFAs) from qualified organizations to support components of our strategic objectives to advance sustainable development by providing a humanitarian response to the harmful social and economic effects generated by landmines, abandoned and unexploded ordnance, and to advance peace and security. This RFA sought applications for activities that would reinforce mine action programs, and expand the mine action knowledge base. We received a total of 36 proposals from 24 different organizations by the May 7, 2004, deadline. We will announce the successful applications following the grant review process. Plans call for another set of RFAs in the fall of 2004. To learn more, click on the entry for "Grants and Cooperative Agreements (Assistance)" on our website at www.state.gov/t/pm/wra.
The South Florida Landmine Action Group (SFLAG) and People to People International, supported by the Mine Action Information Center at James Madison University and the U.S. Department of State, with generous assistance from the City of Miami, sponsored a Landmine Awareness Festival in January to showcase how the mine action community works to make the world safe from landmines. The Festival focused on Latin America, but it was clear to everyone that landmines are a global problem. The Festival was unique in offering art and entertainment to complement the mine awareness message.
From Bob Ferreira and his SFLAG team, to special guests Assistant Secretary Lincoln P. Bloomfield, Jr., General James T. Hill, and Mary Jean Eisenhower, president and CEO of People to People International, Festival-goers heard about government, military, and private involvement in mine action.
Ken Rutherford of Southwest Missouri State University and a cofounder of Landmine Survivors Network, Bill McDonough of the Organization of American States, and Paul Arcangeli, Director of the U.S. Department of Defenses Humanitarian Demining Training Center, discussed survivor assistance, mine action in Latin America, and demining technology. There were also speakers and guests from Nicaragua, Canada, Germany, the European Union, and the United Nations Mine Action Service.
Visitors were able to experience a simulated minefield hosted by real deminers like Colin King, Steve Wilson of Mines Advisory Group, and Nigel Robinson of The HALO Trust. It was particularly effective to see how a pleasant tropical garden can hide instant death and dismemberment, and brought home the difficulty of detecting and destroying mines. Festival-goers were also treated to mine detecting dog demonstrations by the Marshall Legacy Institute.
Adopt-A-Minefield, MAG, HALO Trust, Maret School, Roots of Peace, Landmines Blow!, and the Polus Center displayed information on their mine action programs. Special Representative Bloomfield recognized International Baccalaureate students from Coral Reef High School for their support of mine action.
Bob Ferreira started SFLAG with the Coral Gables Chapter of People to People International. Local Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs and other concerned citizens have joined SFLAG and are all working together to help alleviate the tragedy of landmines. For more information, visit www.sflag.org.
Message from the Special Representative
Our policy offers new directions compared to past approaches to landmines. It ensures protection for both military forces and civilians alike, and continues U.S. leadership in humanitarian mine action -- those activities that contribute most directly toward eliminating the landmine problem and mitigating its effects on landmine survivors. Under the new policy, key steps taken by the United States will be to:
There are many Americans, and a large international community of people and organizations, who have dedicated tremendous effort to address this humanitarian crisis in recent years, and we respect and appreciate them all. As we carry out these policy and program initiatives directed by the President, we look forward to working with Congress, our private partners in humanitarian mine action, and the international community to accelerate progress in ending this terrible problem around the world once and for all.
For details on all the new components of the landmine policy, please visit our website at www.state.gov/t/pm/wra.
In an innovative initiative, the Humpty Dumpty Institute (HDI) received U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approval to fund mine clearance in Angola using proceeds generated by the sale of donated U.S. surplus powdered milk.
HDI received approval for a donation of 500 metric tons of nonfat dry milk (NFDM), in accordance with USDA Section 416(b) of the P.L. 480 Food Aid Programs. This provision allows nongovernmental organizations to monetize surplus commodities in countries where proceeds can then be used to fund specific humanitarian objectives. HDI will apply the proceeds from the sale of NFDM estimated at $800,000 to HALO Trust’s landmine clearance operations in Angola. The first shipment of 100 metric tons could be in Angola as early as July or August, with the rest to follow in shipments spaced over several months. HDI’s other partner, Land O’Lakes International Development Division (LOL), will provide technical expertise and monetization assistance.
Angola is one of the heaviest mined countries in the world. With overall project management by HDI, HALO Trust will demine along 1,500 km of major arterial and feeder roads in the Planalto Region and provide mine risk education training upon request. After decades of civil war, Angola’s economic development, commerce, and the delivery of humanitarian relief have been greatly hampered by anti-personnel and anti-vehicle mines. Effective mine clearance is a critical prerequisite to increasing agricultural productivity and advancing rural economic development in Angola.
To learn how HDI "puts the pieces back together," visit www.humptydumpty.net.
The Marshall Legacy Institute’s (MLI) inaugural Children Against the Landmine Problem (CHAMPS) initiative in September 2003, resulted in thousands of children in the State of Wyoming raising $14,000 to send a mine detecting dog to Sri Lanka in February. This two-year-old female Belgian Malinois, named Wyoming, will help to rid Sri Lanka of its estimated 700,000 landmines.
CHAMPS is an educational and fundraising program designed to engage American school children in the global effort to remove landmines. Children are encouraged to help sponsor a mine detecting dog by donating a quarter each. CHAMPS aims to teach global citizenship, compassion for others and actions that can improve the lives of both people and animals.
In partnership with the Department of State and the Government of Sri Lanka, MLI Chairman Anthony Lake, MLI President Perry Baltimore, Diana Enzi (wife of Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi), Sri Lankan Defense Attaché Brigadier Rohan Jayasinghe, and Jim Lawrence of PM/WRA visited Cheyenne, Casper, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, along with a mine detecting dog team from Global Training Academy to deliver landmine presentations and demonstrations at area schools. “I am so thrilled that Wyoming is the first state to participate in this national campaign where children will be helping children around the world,” said Mrs. Enzi.
In the coming school year, MLI will extend CHAMPS to several additional states including Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Vermont. Pupils will have the opportunity to keep track of their dog and its activities through up dates on MLI’s website at www.marshall-legacy.org.
Clear Path International is a nonprofit organization that serves landmine accident survivors, their families, and their communities in Southeast Asia. On the eve of Clear Path International’s third anniversary last August, cofounder Imbert Matthee set out on a three-week journey through Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand.
"The trip was deeply rewarding. I had a chance to take in the full scope of our landmine accident survivor assistance projects now stretching from central Vietnam to the Thai-Burma border. I was amazed at the extent to which the contributions of our donors have made a profoundly positive impact on the daily existence of individual mine and bomb victims who would otherwise have no support to regain their footing in life."
After visiting Vietnam and Cambodia, Matthee ended the trip in Thailand, where Clear Path International has supported groups providing prosthetics to ethnic refugees from Burma. Here too, the organization provides hope and confidence to disadvantaged mine victims with no other access to mobility devices. Clear Path has helped set up a prosthetics workshop in a very remote Thai border village north of Chiang Mai so amputees from the nearby Shan refugee camps can get artificial limbs. To learn more about Clear Path International, please visit: www.clearpathinternational.org.
For more information on mine action initiatives, please contact:
Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
[Also see previous editions.]