In 2002, Angola emerged from decades of civil war as one of the world’s most landmine-impacted countries. As a result of nearly 40 years of fighting, all eighteen of Angola’s provinces contain landmines, artillery shells, mortars, and other explosive remnants of war (ERW), which not only pose immediate threats to public safety and security, but also hinder long-term reconstruction and development. Angolans face daily risks to life and limb from landmines and ERW comparable to civilians in Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Cambodia. Today, programs funded by the United States and other international partners, have reduced the number of these hidden hazards that once littered Angolan land by more than half. These efforts have opened up many parts of Angola for safe development.
U.S.-funded non-governmental organizations and their locally-hired Angolan deminers conduct this dangerous and laborious work. Together, they have rid Angola of more than 100,000 landmines, 88,000 weapons, more than 750 tons of munitions, and 30 man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS). U.S.-supported humanitarian demining has helped safely clear more than 24 million square meters of land, including 6,000 kilometers of bridges and roads in Angola since 1994. While much more work remains ahead, these successful partnerships have made significant progress to make communities across Angola safer.
U.S. funding for conventional weapons destruction — including humanitarian demining and victim assistance — has totaled over $105 million since 1994. The Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) has provided $86 million of this funding, including $6 million this year. These efforts have substantially increased access to arable land and critical infrastructure, and have served as a catalyst for economic, education, and health developments throughout Angola.
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 $2.3 billion in aid to over 90 countries for conventional weapons destruction. These programs address not only landmine and ERW clearance, but also destruction of stockpiles of excess or loosely-secured munitions to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands, and better stockpile management of munitions to prevent depot explosions that could endanger civilians. Our efforts have helped to dramatically reduce the world’s annual landmine casualty rate, and assisted 15 countries to become free from the impact of landmines. Humanitarian demining in countries like Angola helps set the stage for post-conflict recovery and development, and is one way the U.S. is working to promote international peace and security, save lives, and renew hope.
To learn more about the United States’ global Conventional Weapons Destruction efforts, check out our annual report, To Walk the Earth in Safety.
About the Author: Michael L. Ly serves in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.