Media Center

Press Release


  September 21, 2005

The member countries of the Organization of American States (OAS) called on the international community to provide the financial support necessary to finalize mine-clearing operations in Central and South America, after hearing a report from (Ret.) Col. Carl Case, Principal Specialist of the OAS Mine Action Program.

During a meeting yesterday of the OAS Committee on Hemispheric Security, Case said financial contributions this year have fallen “significantly short” of a projected budget of nearly $6.5 million. “Currently, approximately $500,000 are needed to avoid the imminent suspension of support in three programs,” said Case, referring to activities underway in Guatemala, Peru and Nicaragua.

Demining operations have already concluded in Costa Rica, Honduras and Suriname, and are scheduled to be completed in Guatemala this year.

The report estimated that some $13.2 million would be needed for the 2006-2007 cycle, so operations could continue in Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Peru. Case noted that a course on antipersonnel landmine destruction is currently being offered to military sappers in Colombia.

In addition to supporting mine-clearing operations, the OAS Mine Action Program provides preventive education and assistance to survivors. As a result of these efforts, Case said, more than 700 people have received physical and psychological rehabilitation and of these, nearly 200 have received job training and placement in the work force. The retired colonel said a similar job-training and placement program is being planned for Guatemala, once mine-clearing operations conclude in that country.

In addition to buried landmines, more than one million stockpiled mines have been destroyed with the help of the OAS and the Inter-American Defense Board in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Peru. Since the OAS embarked on demining efforts in 1991, more than 20 countries have contributed some $47 million to the program.

Reference: E-205/05