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Launching a Global Demining Campaign

To make humanitarian demining feasible on a large scale, the demining rate must greatly increase to reduce overall costs and justify expenditures for more sophisticated equipment. This will require a gradual shift from a labor-intensive low-tech approach to the intermediate stage of introducing power tools and discriminating detectors. The final stage will require the development of autonomous, mechanized demining systems to incorporate some of the more sophisticated detection technologies we have described. Such progress will require a coherent, sustained, and adequately supported R&D effort in the range of tens of millions of dollars annually over several years.

Unfortunately, frustration with the marginal results of even the most heroic demining efforts so far has led to a tired indifference among the public and decision makers alike. This frustration has, in turn, led to the loss of opportunities for new solutions. The constellation of humanitarian relief organizations that have patiently shouldered most of the demining efforts, including the Red Cross, CARE, and the United Nations, to name just a few, have had little contact with the scientific and technical communities in academia and in high-tech industries that could boost demining efficiency. For their part, the scientific and technical communities in the developed world have largely ignored the problem. As an example of this lack of technological partnership, a one-million-pound reward offered several years ago by the British Government for an acceptable plan to demine the remote and difficult terrain of the Falkland Islands has gone unclaimed.

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