The U.S. government donated $1.3 million to the Ecuadorian Army’s 68th Cotopaxi Engineer Battalion for demining efforts on the land border with Peru, March 3, 2022.
The donation will finance two projects, including demining and medical training for demining personnel. Both projects include the necessary equipment to conduct the activities, said the U.S. Embassy in Quito, Ecuador’s capital.
“The support of the U.S. government will allow the Battalion to carry out humanitarian demining operations in the province of Zamora Chinchipe; it will also help the Battalion to increase its operations to clear the southern border of mines,” the Embassy said.
The donation strengthens the bonds of cooperation between both countries and demonstrates the importance of Ecuador’s security for the United States, U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador Michael J. Fitzpatrick said.
“With this donation, we reaffirm our commitment to the Ecuadorian people. Together, we work as allies to strengthen Ecuador’s security and confront situations that affect the country’s stability. Our government understands the issues that Ecuador faces and will continue to support demining to return the land to affected civilian communities,” Fitzpatrick added.
The donation, made through the U.S. Embassy in Ecuador’s Office of Security Cooperation, will increase the Battalion’s demining operational capacity by 40 percent, helping the Ecuadorian government to create secure access for local communities to markets, schools, water sources, and clinics. In addition, this initiative seeks to support efforts to develop the Battalion’s institutional capacity to plan, coordinate, and manage demining operations and to comply with international treaty obligations for a mine-free Ecuador by 2025.
The United States is the world’s leading donor for humanitarian demining. Since 1993, it has contributed more than $4 billion worldwide to conventional weapons destruction efforts. In the last five years alone, U.S.-funded demining programs helped remove more than 1.4 million landmines and other hazardous explosives, the U.S. Embassy said.
On February 21, the Ecuadorian Army indicated that U.S. Army instructors gave the 68th Cotopaxi Engineer Battalion two weeks of training to 40 deminers, including officers and troops, as well as nine paramedics.
“Since 1998, after Ecuador and Peru signed the Peace Agreements, the two nations began a binational demining process to eliminate the danger that explosive devices pose for the populations of both countries,” the Ecuadorian Army said.