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U.S. AMBASSADOR: “THE U.S. PROVIDED OVER $30 MILLION TO SUPPORT DEMINING EFFORTS IN AZERBAIJAN"

“We celebrate our cooperation with Azerbaijan and the extraordinary work of the ANAMA’s employees, who risk their lives to make others safe”

Baku. Malahat Najafova – APA. “As Ambassador, I am honored to be able to point to the United States’ long history of partnering with Azerbaijan to clear its lands of mines and unexploded ordnance”, U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan Robert Cekuta said in a message regarding the International Demining Day, APA reports.

“The U.S. provided over $30 million to support demining efforts in Azerbaijan since 1993. Land mines do not differentiate between soldiers and civilians.  Unexploded ordnance cannot tell the difference between military targets and children.  The terrible reality is that innocent civilians – men, women, and children – too often bear the brunt of these explosive remnants of war.  From the early 1990’s to 2011, over 367 individuals were killed and over 2,000 more were injured in Azerbaijan.  International Demining Day is a chance to highlight the importance of eliminating the scourge of landmines so that all people can walk freely and safely. United States funding and cooperation with Azerbaijan’s i efforts have made real progress in clearing mines and unexploded ordnance.  At one site near Saloglu, for example, the area was littered with over half a million pieces of unexploded ordnance after the departing Soviet Army destroyed 138 bunkers full of explosives in August 1991.  Today a school stands on the cleared land and the funds raised by selling the scrap metal gathered during the clean-up were used to build a sports stadium for the village’s children”, he said.

“The United States is also the lead NATO country in a joint effort between the Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) and NATO to clear unexploded ordnance and other explosive remnants of war from the Jeyranchel region of Azerbaijan on the border with Georgia.  The ANAMA cleared 19 square kilometers of land in the project’s first phase, removing 173 live mines and 14,654 pieces of unexploded ordnance.  The ANAMA employees are already almost halfway towards a goal of clearing another 23 square kilometers of land.  Each landmine, each piece of unexploded ordnance, is another life potentially saved.

So as the world observes International Mine Awareness Day this year, we celebrate our cooperation with Azerbaijan and the extraordinary work of the ANAMA’s employees, who risk their lives to make others safe”, said the Ambassador.