By freeing up safe land, MAG is enabling people displaced by the civil war in northern Sri Lanka to return to their homes.
Why MAG is needed in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s longstanding conflict came to an end in 2009, leaving northern and eastern districts contaminated with explosive remnants of war such as landmines, unexploded ordnance (UXO) and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
In the resulting post-conflict emergency, this extensive contamination hindered the resettlement of around 320,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) dwelling in camps, and prevented returning communities from rebuilding their lives and re-establishing their livelihoods.
To date, humanitarian demining activities have enabled more than 373,000 individuals – around 114,000 families – to return to their homes.
However, as the post-emergency phase draws to a close, an estimated 342km² of contaminated land remains in the Northern and Eastern provinces, restricting access to land and resources that are critical to the recovery of returning populations.
Paddy fields and other agricultural land may be inaccessible, water channels and tanks blocked and crucial access paths obstructed.
Returning populations are not the only ones at risk – there are also safety concerns for development agencies implementing land rehabilitation projects.
As the emergency phase ends, it is anticipated that funding for mine action will reduce and the international presence will decline. It is therefore vital that mine action not only supports the resettlement of remaining IDPs and recovery of conflict-affected areas through survey and clearance of explosive remnants of war, but also supports the Government of Sri Lanka’s efforts to establish a sustainable local capacity in the longer term.
Your donation to MAG helps us to move into current and former conflict zones to clear the
remnants of conflict, enabling recovery and assisting the development
of affected populations.
How to donate and where your money goes
How MAG is helping in Sri Lanka
MAG has been operational in the northern and eastern provinces of Sri Lanka since 2002. Since 2009, MAG’s focus has been to provide survey and clearance in support of the Government’s priority of enabling resettlement of IDPs in Vavuniya, Mannar and Mullaitivu Districts in the Northern Province (MAG was the first agency to be given access to Mullaitivu District, where the final stages of the war were conducted).
By contributing to the urgent requirement to survey priority areas and clear them of landmines, UXO and IEDs, MAG enables post-conflict reconstruction and development.
• Reducing the physical risk posed to affected communities
By identifying, prioritising and clearing the known suspected hazardous areas, MAG makes safe land available for resettled communities, thus contributing to reconstruction, regeneration and development activities in conflict-affected areas.
• Supporting a sustainable mine action sector in Sri Lanka
Through capacity-building initiatives with the National Mine Action Centre, MAG will support efforts to plan and coordinate mine action in Sri Lanka effectively. In addition, the Sri Lankan Humanitarian Demining Unit will be better able to take the lead in the mine action sector in the longer term.
• Supporting improved planning and co-ordination between mine action stakeholders and the wider development community
MAG provides essential data for annual mine action planning by identifying a more exact picture of the impact of each hazardous area and the level of impact in each community. This enables the government and Regional Mine Action Offices to implement a more transparent and impact-driven prioritisation and planning process.
MAG is helping to create a more secure environment for the people of Sri Lanka, build safer communities and improve the futures of people affected by remnants of conflict, and contribute to national reconstruction, economic growth and stability by freeing up land for essential livelihood activities.
Since the conflict ended in 2009, MAG’s survey and clearance activities have benefited more than 84,000 individuals, able to return to areas that MAG has released as safe.
In April 2011, 30,700 people returned to areas that MAG has released as safe in the Northern Province.
More about MAG's work in Sri Lanka
Photo gallery: Healing the wounds . Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the civil war.
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