Office of the Spokesman
June 26, 2008
State Department Co-Sponsors Africa's First Regional Seminar on MANPADS Threat Reduction
The U.S. Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement and the RegionalCenter on Small Arms will co-sponsor the first African seminar on reducing the threat to global aviation from Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS), often referred to as shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles. The seminar will be hosted by the Government of Kenya in Nairobi on July 1st and 2nd, 2008.Released on June 26, 2008
Ambassador Lincoln P. Bloomfield, Jr., the U.S. Department of State’s Special Envoy on MANPADS Threat Reduction, officials from the twelve African member states to the Regional Center on Small Arms (RECSA), and representatives from the United Kingdom and from non-governmental organizations will discuss the proliferation of MANPADS in Africa’s Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa, and encourage strengthened physical security and stockpile management.
In 2002, Kenya was the location of a terrorist attempt to shoot down an Israeli passenger airliner. That incident inspired the United States to redouble its already considerable efforts to protect international aviation from MANPADS that have been obtained by criminals and terrorists.
The United States has made considerable progress in its efforts to stem the illicit proliferation of MANPADS. Since 2003 the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, in concert with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (www.dtra.mil), has helped 25 countries to destroy over 26,000 of their at-risk MANPADS in order to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands. In addition, the Office of Conventional Arms Threat Reduction (www.state.gov/t/isn/16188.htm) in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, and Special Envoy Bloomfield have been promoting stricter foreign government controls on the import, export, and transfer of MANPADS.
The Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, which manages a robust conventional weapons destruction and humanitarian mine action program, has also collaborated with RECSA (www.recsasec.org) on other productive initiatives to stem the proliferation of military-style small arms and light weapons in Africa in order to protect populations, strengthen peace, and reinforce the rule of law. To learn more about the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, visit www.state.gov/t/pm/wra.