A new programme to clear landmines and explosive remnants of war from areas of Northern Sri Lanka devastated by conflict has been announced today by the Prime Minster David Cameron.
The UK Government will fund £2.1 million over 2 years for a new demining programme which will clear landmines from some of the most heavily mined areas of the country. The programme will allow heavily contaminated land to be returned to local communities so that it can be used for building livelihoods, as well as schools and roads.
Speaking at a press conference to mark the end of his visit, Prime Minister David Cameron said:
“As part of our support for reconciliation efforts across this country, we will provide an additional £2.1 million to support demining work in Jaffna, in Kilinochchi and in Mullaitivu districts – the location of some of the most chilling scenes from Channel 4’s No Fire Zone documentary.”
The funding will clear approximately 2 million square metres of land per year in the most complex, heavily mined areas of the country. Complete clearance is expected in the district of Jaffna and near complete clearance in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts.
The funding will also be used to:
* Provide more mine risk education for children and others in the most at risk areas;
* Support the Sri Lankan National Mine Action Centre to manage mine clearance activities across the country; and
* Increase employment opportunities for those living in Northern Sri Lanka including women.
International Development Minister, Justine Greening, said:
“The presence of landmines threatens people’s lives, blocks economic development and prevents access to agricultural land in some of the world’s poorest countries. We will continue to help transform the lives of millions of people to live free from the fear of landmines, to cultivate land and to build up businesses.”
The UK Government has already helped 70,000 internally displaced people in northern Sri Lanka re-settle through DFID’s 2010-2013 Global Mine Action programme which provided £3 million for demining carried out by the HALO Trust.