COLOMBO : The British High Commission in Colombo hosted a reception to mark The HALO Trust and Mines Advisory Group (MAG)’s 20th anniversary of humanitarian mine clearance in Sri Lanka on Tuesday, Nov,29.
The event drew participation from embassy representatives of donor governments, government ministries, the National Mine Action Centre Sri Lanka as well as humanitarian mine action operators.
The British High Commissioner Sarah Hulton said:
“The UK is proud to have supported the sector for 16 of the past 20 years, alongside so many committed international partners. This globally-recognised effort provides a really positive example of what can be achieved on challenges like mine clearance when there is consistent and coordinated support.”
The grim legacy of large-scale mine contamination as a result of Sri Lanka’s civil war is still felt today. At the end of the conflict in 2009, an estimated 1.6 million landmines were left in the ground, unmarked and mostly unrecorded, contributing to mass internal displacement in the Northern Province and beyond. Over the past 20 years, the demining sector has made great progress in identifying and clearing contaminated land. Using large numbers of manual deminers as well as armoured heavy machines, HALO and MAG have:
- found and destroyed over 1.3 million items of explosive ordnance
- released 168km2 of previously contaminated land
- enabled the safe resettlement of over 405,000 internally displaced people in Northern and Eastern Province (Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar, Trincomalee and Vavuniya)
- Given steady employment to a large workforce (currently over 2,200 staff between HALO and MAG), –up to 40% of whom are women
Sri Lanka signed up to the international Mine Ban Treaty in December 2017. From the time the treaty entered into force in 2018, Sri Lanka has committed to clearing all known mine contamination by 2028. HALO and MAG are committed to continuing their life-saving work to help Sri Lanka achieve this goal.
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