Sending Office: Honorable Daniel M. Donovan, Jr.
Sent By:
Tiffany.Howard@mail.house.gov

Dear Colleague,

 

Please join me in supporting continued funding for the clearance of landmines and other explosive remnants of war in Kosovo, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Zimbabwe, and Angola through the State Department’s Conventional Weapons Destruction program. By maintaining
our nation’s commitment levels to world demining and cluster removal efforts, the U.S. will help end the destabilizing effects of mines and sub-munitions around the globe.

 

In 1999, NATO bombed Yugoslavian targets in Kosovo, releasing over 295,000 sub-munitions. With a high failure rate, tens of thousands of unexploded sub-munitions were left behind, continuing to cause casualties today. With $5 million, Kosovo can become cluster-munition
free.

 

In Sri Lanka, since the end of the civil war in 2009, U.S. demining assistance has been critical to allowing more than 300,000 people displaced by the war to return to their homes. Demining has enabled the reopening of schools and hospitals and the reconstruction
of the Jaffna railway – enabling access to Sri Lanka’s northern ports. It is essential that Sri Lanka continues to receive the FY17 level of funding at $6.5 million, so that it can be free of landmines by 2020.

 

In Cambodia, there have been over 64,000 landmine casualties since 1979. To put Cambodia on a path to self-sustaining growth and development, we must continue to fund demining efforts that will create access to land, water resources, roads and health services.
Zimbabwe is one of the most highly mine-impacted countries in the world. There are very dense, unfenced minefields close to houses, schools and clinics that kill livestock and separate communities from their only viable sources of water. Landmines in Angola
have injured over 80,000 people since they were first used in its civil war from 1975 to 2002. With the help of U.S. foreign aid, 92,000 landmines have been destroyed and more than 800 minefields have been cleared. It is important that Cambodia, Zimbabwe,
and Angola are funded at FY17 levels of $8 million, $2.5 million, and $4 million, respectively, to meet the international goal of eliminating landmines in the near future.

 

If you have any questions or would like to sign onto this letter, please contact Tiffany Howard (tiffany.howard@mail.house.gov) by close of business on March 15, 2018.

Sincerely,

 

Daniel M. Donovan, Jr.

 

March 16, 2017

 

 

The Honorable Hal Rogers                                                     The Honorable Nita Lowey

Chairman                                                                                 Ranking Member

House Committee on Appropriations                                    House Committee on Appropriations

Subcommittee on State, Foreign                                            Subcommittee on State, Foreign

Operations and Related Programs                                           Operations and Related Programs      

HT-2 Capitol Building                                                            1016 Longworth HOB

Washington, DC 20515                                                          Washington, DC 20515

 

Dear Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Lowey:

 

We are concerned with the funding allocations in the Conventional Weapons Destruction account within Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining and Related Programs at the U.S. Department of State and respectfully request that you consider maintaining overall
funding for this important program at the proposed FY 2019 level, ensure funding at FY 2017 levels in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Zimbabwe, and Angola, and allocate sufficient funding to finish clearing remaining US and NATO-origin ordnance in Kosovo ($5 million).
We fear that if U.S. assistance is pulled back in these countries, the international goal of eliminating landmines in Sri Lanka in 2020 and elsewhere in the near future will be at risk. Further, decreasing support in Kosovo is contradictory to the U.S. goal
of clearing its legacy ordnance.

 

In the late 1990s, Kosovo became contaminated by cluster munitions. In 1999, NATO bombed Yugoslav targets, releasing over 295,000 sub-munitions. With a failure rate estimated at 20%, tens of thousands of unexploded sub-munitions were left behind. More than
5,000 sub-munitions have already been destroyed, but with $5 million, Kosovo can become cluster munition-free.

 

Since the end of Sri Lanka’s decades-long civil war in 2009, U.S. demining assistance has been critical to allowing more than 300,000 people displaced by the war to return to their homes in the northern and eastern provinces. U.S. demining efforts have also
enabled the reopening of schools and hospitals, the reconstruction of thousands of homes, and the reconstruction of the Jaffna railway – enabling access to Sri Lanka’s northern ports.

 

Although 50% of Cambodia’s minefields have now been cleared, it is still one of the most landmine-impacted countries in the world with over 64,000 casualties since 1979 and over 25,000 amputees, the highest ratio per capita in the world. Despite great progress
in Cambodia, there is much work that needs to be done. If we want to truly help Cambodia and put it on a path to self-sustaining growth, we must continue to fund demining efforts to ensure development by making sure there is access to land, water sources,
roads and health services.

 

Zimbabwe is one of the most highly mine-impacted countries in the world. There are very dense, unfenced minefields close to houses, schools and clinics that kill livestock weekly and separate communities from its only viable source of water. Zimbabwe has
just started its demining efforts and if we want to rid the world of landmines in the near future, we must keep funding in place.

 

Landmines in Angola have injured over 80,000 people since they were first used in its civil war from 1975 to 2002, but with the help of U.S. foreign aid, 92,000 landmines have been destroyed and more than 800 minefields have been cleared. We have to keep
working to continue the good work that has been done, especially in the rural areas of Angola where some communities have been waiting decades for assistance.
 

We urge the subcommittee to include the following bill or report language: “The Committee requests that the Secretary of State allocate $5 million to complete clearance of the remaining NATO and US-origin cluster munition contamination in Kosovo. The Committee
requests that the Secretary of State allocate $6.5 million to humanitarian demining programs in Sri Lanka, which is sufficient to finish clearing the country of landmines by 2020, an achievement that will cement peace and advance development in the nation.
The Committee requests that the Secretary of State returns funding levels for the following countries to FY17 levels: Angola ($4 million), Zimbabwe ($2.5 million), and Cambodia ($8 million). Maintenance of State Department funding at these levels will promote
effective and efficient programs that save lives, promote economic development, facilitate stability, and expand American influence.”

 

We are confident that if we maintain our level of commitment to the demining and cluster munition removal efforts happening all over the world – especially in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Zimbabwe, Angola, and Kosovo – we can become mine and sub-munition free in
the near future.

 

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

 

Daniel M. Donovan, Jr.                                                                                        

Member of Congress             

 

 

 

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information: Appropriations, Foreign Affairs

icon eDC logo e-Dear Colleague version 2.0