BOOM! With a puff of black smoke on the horizon, Mozambican, American, and international, dignitaries recently witnessed the safe destruction of the last landmine cleared in Maputo province. U.S. Ambassador to Mozambique Douglas M. Griffiths called the occasion a “landmark event,” and emphasized how honored he was to be a part of this momentous occasion and strong partnership. “The United States has been a proud contributor to Mozambique’s incredible achievements in clearing landmines and improving the safety and security of local communities,” he proclaimed.
At the end of its civil war and the beginning of humanitarian demining in 1993, Mozambique was one of top five most heavily landmine-impacted countries in the world, alongside Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Cambodia. Of these five countries, Mozambique is on track to be the first to achieve mine-impact free status. As Ambassador Griffiths said, “The completion of mine clearance in Maputo province is a huge step forward in Mozambique’s goal to be mine-impact free by the end of this year.”
U.S. foreign assistance to Mozambique for Humanitarian Mine Action and the development of Mozambique’s national conventional weapons destruction capacity has totaled over $52.5 million, including $3 million this year. This investment has allowed for the clearance and safe disposal of landmines and unexploded ordnance, improved the lives of mine and unexploded ordnance survivors, increased access to arable land and infrastructure, and served as a pre-requisite for follow-on economic development throughout Mozambique. The HALO Trust, the United States' mine clearance implementing partner, and its locally-hired Mozambican deminers conduct the laborious and dangerous work to rid Mozambique of landmines and have safely removed and destroyed tens of thousands of landmines with U.S. support.
The United States is proud to be the world’s leading provider of financial and technical assistance to help countries address this serious humanitarian challenge. Since 1993, the United States has invested more than $2.2 billion in aid in over 90 countries to really advance this effort and help overcome threats from landmines and explosive remnants of war. These include unexploded bombs, artillery shells and mortars, as well as the destruction of excess loosely secured or otherwise at-risk weapons and ordnance. Our efforts have helped to dramatically reduce the world’s annual landmine casualty rate, and even assisted 15 countries around the world to become landmine-free. Humanitarian demining in countries like Mozambique helps set the stage for post-conflict recovery and development, and is one way the United States is working to promote international peace and security.
For more information, check out our annual report on U.S. Conventional Weapons Destruction Programs, To Walk the Earth in Safety.
About the Author: Darren Manning serves as a Program Manager for the Conventional Weapons Destruction Programs in Africa in the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.