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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 30, September 1998

New US Estimate of Scale of Landmines Crisis

On 3 September, the US State Department published a major, 190-page report on the state of global demining efforts. The report - Hidden Killers 1998: The Global Landmines Crisis - contained a revised estimate for the number of landmines sown worldwide: 60-70 million, down from a 1997 estimate of 80-110 million. According to Eric Newsom, Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, briefing reporters at the State Department on 3 September, the new figures have been made possible by the intensive demining work now underway in many regions. Until the last few years, Newsom claimed, "people were making best guesses based on very little hands-on knowledge and experience."

At the same briefing, Karl Inderfurth, the President's Special Representative for Global Humanitarian Demining, drew the following conclusions from the revised estimate:

"Hidden Killers 1998 contains some important and long-awaited good news about the global landmine crisis. With the demining experience gained in the last four years, we know that, with a sustained international commitment, the problem can be solved in a reasonable period of time, indeed we believe by the year 2010.

Whereas the previous editions of Hidden Killers [1993 & 1994] painted a picture of hundreds of millions of mines that would take generations to remove, we now believe that the dimensions of the problem are less than previously estimated and that international intervention does make a big difference."

Reports: Lower, 'realistic' estimate of embedded landmines is published, United States Information Service, 3 September; Text - Inderfurth puts number of landmines at 60-70 million, United States Information Service, 3 September.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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