|Saturday, 27 March 2004|
Country Specific Mine Action Standards completed ahead of schedule
The National Steering Committee for Mine Action (NSCMA) announced Tuesday at its 11th Meeting that Sri Lanka has completed the first edition of the Country Specific Mine Action standards, well ahead of the usual time taken to complete similar standards in other countries.
"It is a significant achievement for Sri Lanka, given that many other countries that have similar mine action programs take several years to complete national standards. Of importance also is that all stakeholders including the NGO clearing mines were involved in drafting the Sri Lanka National Mine Action Standards (SLNMAS)," said NSCMA Chairman Bradman Weerakoon.
The Sri Lanka National Mine Action Standards was completed in less than a year. The SLNMAS is based on International Mine Action Standards but reflects methods used in the Sri Lanka Mine Action Program and is structured to suit local working conditions.
All agencies operating in the country, and those that will become operational in the future, will be required to work in accordance with the stipulated SLNMAS. The standards will be reviewed every six months and updated accordingly.
Sri Lanka was represented at two meetings on Mine Action in Tokyo and Geneva this month. The participants were impressed with the cost-effective demining program that Sri Lanka managed and expressed their wish to study the programme.
The UNDP noted that the presentation given by Sri Lanka at the Geneva meeting was well received by representatives of other countries. In many countries, it is the International agencies that implement these mine action programs but in Sri Lanka, the Government coordinates and implements the program.
The Sri Lankan mine action program is relatively new. It has developed a solid foundation which would lead to a mine free Sri Lanka by the end of 2006. The Government has established Structures to coordinate and direct mine action in the country.
There has been a significant reduction in the number of mine casualties from 15 per month to eight per month and hundreds of IDPs have returned to previously mined land.
Chaired by the Secretary to the Prime Minister, the NSCMA is responsible for co-ordination and monitoring of mine action program consisting of mine clearance, mine risk education and victim assistance. The Program is owned and managed by the Government.
The NSCMA comprises Secretary level representation from Ministries, Government Agents, the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation, representatives of the donor community, international and national NGOs, UNICEF and UNDP. It meets once in six weeks.
Area Mine Action Offices in Jaffna, Kilinochchi and Vavuniya develop priorities in consultation with authorities and in response to local needs. These offices provide operational coordination, centralised information management and tasking in their respective areas and are supported by the UNDP and the UNICEF. Focal points for Trincomalee and Batticaloa have been appointed by the Government Agents.
Weerakoon said that the Sri Lankan Government is positively thinking of acceding to the Ottawa Ban Treaty.
Produced by Lake House