(Senate - September 24, 2015)

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[Page S6933]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, last week marked an important milestone in 
the campaign to rid the world of antipersonnel landmines. On September 
17, Mozambique, where two decades ago an estimated 200,000 unexploded 
landmines were left over from a brutal 15-year civil war, became the 
first country with large-scale mine contamination to have all known 
minefields cleared. While accidents due to unknown mines and other 
unexploded ordnance in Mozambique will occasionally occur in the future 
as they still do in Europe 70 years after World War II, the number is a 
tiny fraction of what it once was, and it will continue to decline.
  The State Department recognized this milestone in a statement, which 
included the following:

       Since 1993, when Mozambique emerged from decades of 
     conflict as one of the world's most landmine-affected 
     nations, the United States has been proud to partner with the 
     people of Mozambique, investing more than $55 million toward 
     improving the safety and security of local communities though 
     the U.S. Conventional Weapons Destruction program.
       Through that partnership--which includes the international 
     donor community and humanitarian demining organizations--we 
     have worked diligently to safely clear landmines and 
     unexploded ordnance, prevent injuries through community 
     outreach and education, and provide medical and social 
     services to survivors of accidents involving these legacies 
     of past conflicts.

  I have spoken many times in this Chamber about these indiscriminate 
weapons, which are triggered by the victim, whether a soldier or an 
unsuspecting child. They linger for days, weeks, years, and even 
decades after armed conflicts end. They destroy lives as well as 
livelihoods, making fields unworkable and roads impassable, crippling 
the economies of already impoverished communities. In recent years the 
United States has made important contributions to the worldwide 
eradication of landmines, and I have long supported funding for the 
State Department's humanitarian demining programs and for assistance 
for mine victims through the U.S. Agency for International 
Development's Leahy War Victims Fund, but the job is far from done.
  The painstaking work of HALO Trust and other dedicated organizations 
and individuals in Mozambique demonstrates what is possible. We used 
the Leahy War Victims Fund there, starting back in 1989, to provide 
artificial limbs, wheelchairs, and rehabilitation for victims of mines. 
Melissa Wells, our outstanding Ambassador to Mozambique at the time, 
was a strong supporter of that program. Thousands of people have 
regained their mobility as a result. My wife Marcelle, a registered 
nurse, traveled to Mozambique and visited some of them more than two 
decades ago. With this declaration, Mozambicans can live with far less 
fear of being maimed or killed while working in their fields, walking 
to school, or just stepping outside of their homes.
  This is a time to commend the people and Government of Mozambique and 
the courageous deminers, as well as those who have helped the victims 
of mines rebuild their lives. But as one who has worked to stop the use 
of landmines ever since my legislation to halt U.S. exports of these 
weapons was first enacted back in 1992, I must emphasize that landmines 
continue to threaten innocent people in many other countries.
  We have come a long way since 1994 when President Clinton, in a 
speech to the United Nations General Assembly, called on all countries 
to rid the world of landmines. But we have not yet achieved that goal, 
and we should rededicate ourselves to eliminating this scourge from the 
Earth. The best way for the United States to do that is to join the 162 
signatories to the Ottawa Treaty banning the production, use, export, 
and stockpiling of antipersonnel landmines.