FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
On this International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, we call attention to deadly devices that are planted in times of conflict and remain rigged to kill. After wars end, there is no peace for families whose children are indiscriminately maimed, for farmers who are forced to abandon their land, and for communities that are divided and whose economic growth is stunted because of unexploded landmines and ordnance.
Eradicating this scourge is difficult, time consuming and costly: mines must be removed, fields must be marked and fenced off, people must be taught how to avoid danger, and governments and armed groups must be convinced to destroy weapons stockpiles. Yet failure to deal with unexploded ordnance exacts a far greater cost in terms of security and human potential. Most landmine casualties are reported in countries that are at peace. The loss of each innocent life tears at the social fabric of communities and unearths painful memories of conflict.
The United States has provided more than $1.9 billion toward conventional weapons destruction programs since 1993, making us the world leader in the clearance of unexploded landmines and ordnance. Since 2001, more than 1.5 million weapons and 90,000 tons of ammunition have been destroyed through U.S. programs. According to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines’ annual report in 2010, yearly civilian casualties have dropped from 15,000-20,000 to 3,956 in a decade. This is progress, but it is not success. Today and every day, we must resolve to strengthen our efforts to ensure that the earth is sown with the fruits of opportunity and prosperity, not dangerous remnants of war.
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