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U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman
Press Statement


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MEDIA NOTE
September 6, 2000

Global Humanitarian Demining: Removal of Landmines in Moldova

The Government of Moldova reports that it has cleared the landmines on its territory laid during armed conflict in its Transnistrian region in 1992 and has thanked the U.S. Government for its assistance in providing equipment and training for its deminers. Over 350 landmines and other explosive devices were found and neutralized in approximately 85 hectares (210 acres) of valuable but unused agricultural land. This former Soviet republic's landmine and unexploded ordnance problem dates back to the Second World War and was aggravated by the 1992 civil war between Moldovans and the breakaway region of Transnistria.

The U.S. Department of Defense provided over $100,000 of humanitarian demining assistance, to include training of Moldovan mine clearance personnel. This assistance enabled Moldova to establish its own competent national demining capability, a necessary step for carrying out a successful humanitarian demining program. Demining equipment purchased by the Moldovan Government, funded by the U.S., enabled safe and efficient demining operations to be undertaken.

Since the 1992 conflict, landmines have killed or injured scores of peacekeepers from Moldova and Russia as well as innocent civilians in the Transnistrian region. The threat posed by these landmines has hampered the full use of needed arable land, further inhibiting slow economic recovery.

The United States was among the first nations to initiate humanitarian demining assistance when, in late 1988, it began supporting clearance of the vast numbers of Soviet landmines laid in Afghanistan during the occupation there. The U.S.'s innovative humanitarian demining program subsequently grew. Since 1993 alone, the U.S. has spent over $400 million on minefield surveys, mine clearance, mine awareness programs, and mine survivor rehabilitation around the world. Approximately $81 million of these funds have been devoted to research and development to improve mine clearance and mine detection techniques. The U.S. Department of State formally established the Office of Humanitarian Demining Programs in 1998. That office now manages humanitarian demining assistance to 35 mine affected countries, including Moldova, as well as Kosovo and Northwest Somalia.

So far, one quarter of the world's humanitarian deminers, such as those in Moldova, have received humanitarian demining training through the U.S. Department of Defense's "Train the Trainer" program.

[end of document]

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