WASHINGTON, D.C. /eNewsChannels/ — NEWS: The Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) has released the 12th Edition of “To Walk the Earth in Safety,” a report summarizing the accomplishments of the U.S. Conventional Weapons Destruction Program. This edition commemorates 20 years of U.S. efforts to promote peace and security worldwide by partnering with nations to address hazards from landmines and unexploded ordnance in post-conflict countries, as well as to reduce the availability of excess, loosely-secured, or otherwise at-risk weapons and ordnance.

In fiscal year 2012, the Department of State provided more than $149 million in conventional weapons destruction assistance in 35 countries, including programs to assist conflict survivors and inform area residents of potential risks from unexploded munitions. Among the report’s highlights are the completion of two significant unexploded ordnance clean-up projects in Albania and Bulgaria; expanded efforts to clear World War II-era munitions in the South Pacific; and new progress in Mine Risk Education and Survivor Assistance in Burma.

Since 1993, the United States has invested more than $2 billion for the safe disposal of small arms, light weapons, and munitions, as well as for removal of landmines and explosive remnants of war in more than 90 countries, making it the world’s single largest financial supporter of conventional weapons destruction. Working in close cooperation with the Department of Defense, U.S. Agency for International Development’s Leahy War Victims Fund, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of State has helped 15 countries to become mine-impact free and to destroy over 1.6 million small arms and light weapons and over 90,000 tons of munitions around the world since 2001.

This interagency partnership has also collaborated with partner nations and international organizations since 2003 to destroy over 33,000 excess or poorly-secured man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS), shoulder-fired missiles that pose a serious potential threat to global aviation in the hands of terrorists or insurgents. Proactive community outreach through our Mine Risk Education programs have prevented countless injuries while U.S.-funded Survivor Assistance has provided essential medical and rehabilitation services to more than over 250,000 people injured by landmines and unexploded ordnance.