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Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security > Bureau of Political-Military Affairs > Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (WRA) > Safe Passage Newsletter 

SAFE PASSAGE: A Newsletter for the Humanitarian Mine Action and Small Arms/Light Weapons Communities, February 2006

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Banner:  Volume 1, Issue 7

In This Issue:

  • Opening Roads to Angola’s Future
  • New Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs
  • Four Rotary Districts Fund Danish Demining Group in Sri Lanka
  • Fifth Annual Night of A Thousand Dinners
  • Welcome, New Partners!
  • PM/WRA Staff Spotlight
  • Grapes for Humanity Gala Dinner
  • Newsweek Map Update 

Opening Roads to Angola’s Future

Schoolchildren cross the Bridge of A Thousand Mines while HDI/HALO deminers conduct mine clearance nearby. [Photo: Daniela Kempf, HDI, July 18, 2005]The Humpty Dumpty Institute (HDI), a non-profit organization established in 1998, has generated $770,000 from the sale of 500 metric tons of surplus dried milk obtained from the United States Department of Agriculture. These funds will be used for landmine clearance operations in the Planalto region of Angola, once the most fertile, and now the most densely mined, part of the country.  [full story]




New Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs

Dr. John Hillen was appointed Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs in October 2005. He provides policy direction to the Secretary of State in the areas of international security, security assistance, military operations, humanitarian assistance, and defense trade. As the new Assistant Secretary, Dr. Hillen also oversees the State Department’s humanitarian mine action and small arms/light weapons destruction programs. [full story]


Four Rotary Districts Fund Danish Demining Group in Sri Lanka

Danish Deming Group QRT releasing land for a small holder desperate to grow his own food. [Photo: Carol Edwina Anderson, Copenhagen International Rotary Club, March 12, 2005]Last year’s tsunami devastated much of South Asia, including parts of Sri Lanka. Complicating rebuilding efforts was the presence of landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). Four Rotary Clubs from around the world came together through the Fellowship of Rotarians in Mine Action and sponsored the Danish Demining Group (DDG) to clear land in Vilankulam, Sri Lanka, sink a central well for community use, and construct low-cost housing. [full story]



Fifth Annual Night of A Thousand Dinners

AGSEP and PDIP jointly organized a Night of A Thousand Dinners event in Sri Lanka on November 3, 2005. [Photo: Marita Kanter, Joint Coordinator of the Event]Adopt-A-Minefield (AAM), a program of the United Nations Association of the USA, launched Night of A Thousand Dinners (N1KD) in 2001 as a way for people across the country and around the world to come together on a single night to enjoy a fundraising dinner to help end the global landmine crisis. The 2005 N1KD was held in early November with 523 dinners registered in the U.S. and 824 dinners registered in 39 countries.  [full story]




Welcome, New Partners!

PM/WRA is pleased to welcome four new partners to the Public-Private Partnership Program: The Association of Volunteers in International Service, USA, Inc. (AVSI); Danish Demining Group (DDG); Handicap International France (HI-France); and Help Handicapped International (HHI). [full story]


PM/WRA Staff Spotlight

Jill Shaunfield in Gardez, Afghanistan [Photo:Jill Shaunfield, November 5, 2005]Foreign Affairs Officer Jill Shaunfield is currently on a temporary duty assignment in Paktia, Afghanistan serving as the Department’s representative on a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT). The PRT works with local government officials in Paktia to coordinate community reconstruction projects and activities in the region. One of Jill’s primary tasks is to oversee the staff provided by the PRT, and help them organize their resources effectively. While in Afghanistan, Jill has also performed quality control checks on a school and assisted in setting up a clinic in a village with no access to health care. She will remain in Afghanistan through the spring.


Grapes for Humanity Gala Dinner

Logo:  Grapes for HumanityCreated by Arlene Willis and Tony Aspler in Toronto in October 2000, Grapes for Humanity (GFH) raises funds in both Canada and the United States. GFH directs its money to projects involving victims of landmines and those who need assistance with prosthetics. This all-volunteer foundation has raised $1.4 million through wine dinners, wine auctions and wine tastings. [full story]


Newsweek Map Update 

The second edition of the Newsweek Landmine Action Map was released in September. The new map updates the original version, which was released in 2001, and highlights the progress made in the past few years through increased donor funding, NGO efforts, and Landmine Impact Surveys. The map also spotlights a new set of countries and contains new photographs. We appreciate the assistance and contributions of a number of our partners, including C King Associates, Adopt-A-Minefield, Roots of Peace, and Survey Action Center, who provided outstanding photographs and assisted in research efforts. Copies of the map are available by contacting PM/WRA, attention: Peggy Pope at popepe@state.gov.


Opening Roads to Angola’s Future
By Daniela Kempf, Humpty Dumpty Institute

Local villagers wash clothes near the Bridge of A Thousand Mines. [Photo: Daniela Kempf, HDI, July 18, 2005]The Humpty Dumpty Institute (HDI), a non-profit organization established in 1998, has generated $770,000 from the sale of 500 metric tons of surplus dried milk obtained from the United States Department of Agriculture. These funds will be used for landmine clearance operations in the Planalto region of Angola, once the most fertile, and now the most densely mined, part of the country. The funds have been provided to The HALO Trust, a U.K.-based demining organization, to support HDI’s Road Threat Reduction project in Angola. The project will help open up previously mined roads for more than 200 communities.

Schoolchildren cross the Bridge of A Thousand Mines while HDI/HALO deminers conduct mine clearance nearby. [Photo: Daniela Kempf, HDI, July 18, 2005]The Planalto region was the site of the heaviest fighting between the UNITA forces and the Angolan Government during 26 years of civil war. Since the conflict ended in 2002, thousands of refugees have returned, only to find their farms and access roads infested with landmines. At the end of this project, hundreds of miles of previously mined or suspected roads will have been opened up and made safe for travel.

HDI is also helping to "clear the way" for democratic elections in Angola next July by working with provincial leaders and the national election agency to identify landmine areas which impede access to planned polling stations.

The "Bridge of A Thousand Mines"

Demining at Rio Cusseque was declared high priority by the Angolan Government because children use the bridge every day to go to school and villagers come to the river to wash their clothes, in addition to all the traffic going over the bridge. The local people call it the "Bridge of A Thousand Mines." HALO first cleared a small path to the river and the top of the bridge itself, so that the villagers can have at least limited use of it until everything is cleared and declared safe. During my visit, several women came to wash their clothes in the river and gingerly walked on the narrow path that had been cleared and marked, just inches away from the still-mined section. I also saw some 25 children cross the bridge that morning to the nearby school, laughing and running past the deminers in full gear going about their dangerous work just a few feet away. For the entire story on HDI in Angola, please visit www.thehdi.org.


New Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs
By Peggy Pope, PM/WRA

Dr. John Hillen - Assistant Secretary of State, Political-Military AffairsDr. John Hillen was appointed Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs in October 2005. He provides policy direction to the Secretary of State in the areas of international security, security assistance, military operations, humanitarian assistance, and defense trade. As the new Assistant Secretary, Dr. Hillen also oversees the State Department’s humanitarian mine action and small arms/light weapons destruction programs.

Dr. Hillen has served as a senior executive with technology firms in Washington, DC and New York City. Most recently, he ran a 1,700-person, $415 million defense and intelligence program at American Management Systems, Inc. He has written and edited several books on international security and published numerous articles in leading journals and newspapers.

During the 2000 Presidential campaign, Dr. Hillen served as a defense policy advisor and speechwriter to President Bush. Prior to that, Dr. Hillen served in the U.S. Army as a reconnaissance and special operations officer in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Dr. Hillen is a trustee of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, the Foreign Policy Research Institute, and Philadelphia University. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He graduated from Duke University, received a Master’s Degree from King’s College London, a doctorate from Oxford, and an MBA from the Johnson School of Management at Cornell.


Four Rotary Districts Fund Danish Demining Group in Sri Lanka
By Carol Edwina Anderson, Copenhagen International Rotary Club

Quick Response Team Operational Site. [Photo: Carol Edwina Anderson, Copenhagen International Rotary Club, March 12, 2005]Last year’s tsunami devastated much of South Asia, including parts of Sri Lanka. Complicating rebuilding efforts was the presence of landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). Four Rotary Clubs from around the world came together through the Fellowship of Rotarians in Mine Action and sponsored the Danish Demining Group (DDG) to clear land in Vilankulam, Sri Lanka, sink a central well for community use, and construct low-cost housing.

Rotary Club of Trincomalee (Rotary District 3220, Sri Lanka) took the lead in this project. Other partners included Rotary District 1470 (Denmark), which sponsored DDG’s Quick Response Team (QRT, also considered quite responsible! See bottom photo.) The Rotary Butler Foundation of District 7280 (Pennsylvania) and the Coney Island Club of Rotary District 1240 (U.K.) also sponsored land development for housing construction.

Before development could take place, this land, a former shooting range for the Sri Lankan Army, littered with unexploded shells and ordnance and landmines, needed to be cleared. During the past year, DDG’s QRT trained and equipped local men for the demining tasks who cleared the land and turned it over to the Trincomalee Rotary Club to build low-cost housing.

Danish Deming Group QRT releasing land for a small holder desperate to grow his own food. [Photo: Carol Edwina Anderson, Copenhagen International Rotary Club, March 12, 2005]Thanks to the Rotary Clubs’ efforts, 85 semi-finished houses have been constructed in Vilankulam and 25 families have started moving in. These families were displaced by the civil war and placed in temporary housing, which was then destroyed by the tsunami. The families are required to finish the free houses themselves.

With the land in Vilankulam returned to the community, the Rotary-sponsored DDG QRT has moved to a new area, previously the site of a Sri Lankan Army camp, and begun systematic clearance. The landowner and his family have already been planting crops, despite having to stop each time mines are discovered. They live in a tent on the land, and risk injury daily when walking to and from the planting fields. The QRT estimates that it will take up to 3 months’ work to ensure that the area is cleared.

This is a wonderful example of coordination between Rotary Clubs and Districts from four countries. For further information, please contact one of the districts mentioned above or contact Carol Edwina Andersen (Copenhagen International Rotary Club) at carol.edwina@mail.dk.


Fifth Annual Night of A Thousand Dinners
By Stacy Bernard Davis, PM/WRA

AGSEP and PDIP jointly organized a Night of A Thousand Dinners event in Sri Lanka on November 3, 2005. [Photo: Marita Kanter, Joint Coordinator of the Event]Adopt-A-Minefield (AAM), a program of the United Nations Association of the USA, launched Night of A Thousand Dinners (N1KD) in 2001 as a way for people across the country and around the world to come together on a single night to enjoy a fundraising dinner to help end the global landmine crisis. The 2005 N1KD was held in early November with 523 dinners registered in the U.S. and 824 dinners registered in 39 countries.

Starting in 2006, N1KD will move to the spring, in part to commemorate the signing of the Ottawa Convention and in support of the recent UN resolution that declared April 4 of each year to be observed as International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. PM/WRA supports the good cause of NIKD by speaking at dinners in the U.S. and encouraging our Embassies to work with American Chambers of Commerce, Rotary Clubs and People to People International, and other local groups to host NIKD events abroad.

Funds raised from N1KD events are used to fund both mine clearance and survivor assistance. In total, AAM has raised over $14 million, cleared 281 minefields on over 20 million square meters of land, and "adopted" 64 survivor assistance projects. For more information, please visit www.1000dinners.com and www.landmines.org.


Welcome, New Partners!
By Peggy Pope, PM/WRA

PM/WRA is pleased to welcome four new partners to the Public-Private Partnership Program: The Association of Volunteers in International Service, USA, Inc. (AVSI); Danish Demining Group (DDG); Handicap International France (HI-France); and Help Handicapped International (HHI). We welcome and encourage these organizations to connect with other partners and to utilize the resources we can provide. We look forward to working with you.

The Association of Volunteers in International Service, USA, Inc.

The Association of Volunteers in International Service (AVSI) is an international not-for-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO) founded in Italy in 1972. AVSI’s mission is to support human development in developing countries with special attention to education and the promotion of human values. AVSI carries out its mission through the implementation of medium and long-term emergency relief operations in partnership with local associations, institutions, governments, and international organizations. AVSI is currently operating in Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East, with projects benefiting approximately 90,000 people. For more information on AVSI, please visit www.avsi-usa.org or contact Jackie Aldrette at jackie.aldrette@avsi.org.

Danish Demining Group

Danish Demining Group (DDG) is a mine action NGO based in Copenhagen, Denmark, operating under the auspices of the Danish Refugee Council. DDG assists individuals and populations hampered by landmines and other Explosive Remnants of War (ERW), ranging from small arms ammunition to large surface-to-air missiles. DDG also conducts mine risk education (MRE) either as an integrated part of a broader mine action mission or as an independent program to provide people with knowledge of safe behavior in ERW-contaminated areas. DDG believes that mine action plays an important role in creating stability in former conflict areas by providing job opportunities and revitalizing the local economy. The organization therefore strives to employ as many national staff members as possible and to procure equipment and supplies from local communities whenever possible. A central tenet of the organization is training and capacity building of local staff in order to secure a viable handover to national ownership as soon as possible. DDG is currently involved in mine action programs in Afghanistan, Ingushetia /Chechnya, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Sri Lanka and Somalia. Contact information is as follows: www.Danishdemininggroup.dk, e-mail: pmac@drc.dk, phone + 45 3373 5110.

Handicap International France

Handicap International France, born of the Cambodian crisis in 1982, is now the largest international NGO of its kind, specializing in crucial assistance programs to men, women, and children disabled by armed conflict, diseases like polio or HIV/AIDS, natural disaster, or poverty. Handicap International France currently implements mine action programs in Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Mozambique, Nepal, Nicaragua, Philippines, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam – working to clear landmines from civilian areas, providing mine risk education programs and providing assistance to landmine accident survivors. For more information on Handicap International France, visit www.handicap-international.org or contact Wendy Batson at WendyBatson@msn.com.

Help Handicapped International

Help Handicapped International (HHI) is a registered charitable trust in Mumbai, India and has recently been accorded Special Consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations. HHI works with the victims of landmines by conducting mobility camps and assisting permanent centers for the fitting of prosthetics to landmine and other war victim amputees. HHI distributes wheelchairs, tricycles and crutches to the disabled in order to help them become self-sufficient. For more information on HHI, please visit www.hhiindia.org, or e-mail dlippy@insight.rr.com.


Grapes for Humanity Gala Dinner
By Arlene Willis, Grapes For Humanity

Philip Craig, center, receives the Grapes for Humanity Humanitarian Award from Tony Aspler, left, co-founder of GFH Canada and Arlene Willis, right, co-founder, President and CEO of GFH Canada and U.S. [Photo: Grapes for Humanity, October 19, 2005]Created by Arlene Willis and Tony Aspler in Toronto in October 2000, Grapes for Humanity (GFH) raises funds in both Canada and the United States. GFH directs its money to projects involving victims of landmines and those who need assistance with prosthetics. This all-volunteer foundation has raised $1.4 million through wine dinners, wine auctions and wine tastings.

The foundation’s latest endeavor was a two-evening event in Toronto that centered on the wines of Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi, one of Tuscany’s oldest and most distinguished wine producers whose 30 generations stretch back to the 14th century. Frescobaldi wines graced the table of King Henry VIII of England as well as the courts of other European monarchs. The main event was a dinner at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Toronto on October 19, 2005 titled "Under the Tuscan Stars with Marchese Leonardo Frescobaldi." Five Frescobaldi wines were sampled by 180 wine lovers. The dinner, a separate tasting, and live and silent auctions of wines and art helped raise a total of $150,000.

Proceeds from this event were directed to The Association of Volunteers in International Service (AVSI) survivors’ support program in Northern Uganda. Based in Gulu, AVSI has been working in the field of disability and rehabilitation in partnership with the Ugandan Ministry of Health since 1989. In 1998, AVSI constructed the Gulu Regional Orthopedic Workshop, the only one of its kind in Northern Uganda.

To learn more about Grapes for Humanity, visit www.grapesforhumanity.com. The foundation’s next fund-raising effort is a series of wine dinners in conjunction with the Four Seasons Hotels: Le Vin – la touche feminine, featuring Madame May-Eliane de Lencquesaing, proprietor of Chateau Pichon Longueville Lalande. Toronto, May 15, 2006; New York City, May 17, 2006; Washington, DC, May 18, 2006.


U.S. Department of State Mine Action Partners

Adopt-A-Minefield ; AVSI ; Center for International Rehabilitation ; Center for Teaching International Relations ; Children of Armenia Fund ; CIREC ; Clear Path International ; C King Associates ; Cranfield University ; Danish Church Aid ; DC Comics ; DDG ; Freedom Fields ; Global Care Unlimited ; Golden West Foundation ; Grapes for Humanity ; HALO Trust ; Handicap International - France ; Health Volunteers Overseas ; Humpty Dumpty Institute ; HHI ; Julia Burke Foundation ; Kids First Vietnam ; Landmine Survivors Network ; Landmines Blow! ; Lipscomb University ; Marshall Legacy Institute ; Medical Care Development International ; Messiah College ; Mine Action Information Center ; Mines Advisory Group ; Newsweek Education Program ; One Sri Lanka Foundation ; Peace Trees Vietnam ; People to People International ; Polus Center ; Prestige Health Care Technologies ; Prosthetics Outreach Foundation ; Roots of Peace ; Rose Charities ; Save the Children ; SFLAG ; Southwest Missouri State University ; Spirit of Soccer ; Students Partnership Worldwide ; Survey Action Center ; United Nations Foundation ; Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation ; Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund ; Warner Bros. ; World Education ; World Rehabilitation Fund.


More Information

For more information on mine action initiatives, please contact:

U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement
2121 Virginia Ave. NW, Room 6100
Washington, DC  20522
Phone: (202) 663-0093
Fax: (202) 663-0090
E-mail: SteveJE@state.gov

[Also see previous editions.]

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