Washington, DC - Secretary of State John Kerry: "The observance of UN International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action on April 4 allows the United States to take pride in its efforts to address the humanitarian impact of these deadly devices on civilian populations around the world.
"Nonetheless, landmines and other unexploded ordnance continue to endanger civilians in over 60 countries across the globe.
"We must make that our focus during the coming year.
"Since 1993, the United States has provided more than $2.4 billion in assistance in over 90 countries for conventional weapons destruction programs. Thanks to strong bipartisan support in Congress, these funds provide the expertise and equipment to safely clear landmines and other unexploded ordnance. They also provide prosthetics and physical rehabilitation services, and vocational training for those injured by these weapons.
"Just 15 years ago, landmines and unexploded ordnance were killing and injuring nearly 10,000 men, women, and children every year. In recent years, that figure has dropped by roughly 60 percent, and 15 countries – from Honduras to Tunisia to Rwanda – are free from the impact of landmines today due to the efforts of the United States and our international partners in government and civil society.
"Our efforts to address the humanitarian impacts of landmines extend to our own weapons stockpiles as well.
"Last September, President Obama brought us one step closer to the goal of a world free from anti-personnel landmines when he announced that the United States will no longer use anti-personnel landmines outside of the unique circumstances of the Korean Peninsula.
"The President also said the United States will begin destroying its anti-personnel landmine stockpiles not required for the defense of the Republic of Korea. And we continue our efforts to pursue solutions that may ultimately allow us to accede to the Ottawa Convention - the international treaty that prohibits the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of anti-personnel landmines.
"These steps reflect America's continued commitment to a powerful global humanitarian movement that has helped prevent the loss of innocent lives. But this work is far from finished.
"Decades after soldiers have laid down their weapons and leaders have made peace, landmines and other unexploded ordnance continue to kill and maim the innocent, keep farmers from their fields, and prevent goods from getting to market. Meanwhile, indiscriminate use of landmines and other explosive weapons continues worldwide.
"We will continue our effort to help countries clear a path to a future in which all can walk the earth in safety."