‘Mine clearance enabled release of 1,277 sq. km of lands’ | Daily News

‘Mine clearance enabled release of 1,277 sq. km of lands’

The International Meeting on Mine Action for National Directors and UN Advisors was held at the UN office in Geneva, from February 5 to 8.

The meeting was aimed at discussing the lessons learnt, as well as best practices and emerging issues of mine-affected countries.

The 30-year civil war in Sri Lanka left many areas of the North and the East contaminated by landmines and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW).

It is noted that the Suspected Hazardous Area was initially 1,302 Sq. km, mostly in the eight districts of the Northern and Eastern provinces.

The mine clearance programme enabled the release of an area of 1,277 sq. km for safe settlement and as a result, directly and indirectly contributed to the resettlement of 258,000 families, said V. Sivagnanasothy, Secretary to the Ministry of National Policies, Economic Affairs, Resettlement and Rehabilitation, Northern Province Development, Vocational Training and Skills Development and Youth Affairs.

As at end of 2018, only 25 sq. km was remaining to be cleared. This area included Muhamalai in the Kilinochchi District, Nagarkovil in the Jaffna District, Maritimepattu and Oddusudan in the Mullaitivu District, and other areas in the North and the East.

Of the eight districts, Batticaloa has been declared a mine-free area. Under the district-by-district approach, it has been proposed to clear Trincomalee and Jaffna, this year.

The government’s vision is to make Sri Lanka a mine-free country by 2020. The achievement of this vision requires additional estimated funds of US$ 20 million. Currently, the HALO Trust, MAG, the Army, DASH, and SHARP are involved in the demining works. Sri Lanka’s achievements were commended at the International Meeting on Mine Action for National Directors and UN Advisors.

The government’s commitment and resource mobilisation, the national mine action strategy, the robust monitoring and evaluation framework, and the National Mine Action Centre were among the achievements highlighted, Sivagnanasothy said.

The Sri Lankan delegation comprised of V. Sivagnanasothy, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative in Geneva Ambassador A.L.A. Azeez, and Deputy Permanent Representative Samantha Jayasuriya. The plenary session was chaired by Norway’s Permanent Representative in Geneva Ambassador Hans Battskar, with the participation of UNICEF Child Protection Global Coordinator Michael Copland and UNICEF Child Protection Chief in Germany, Julie Gill.


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