Japan assists de-mining process of SriLanka
By Apeksha Senadheera

Three sophisticated Mine Clearing machines, which were purchased from the grant of Rs.177 million by the Government of Japan, were handed over to the Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake yesterday.

The machines and other supportive de-mining equipments and spare parts will be received by the Civilian Humanitarian De-mining Unit in the Ministry of Nation Building and Development.

According to the Secretary to the Ministry of Nation Building and Development, M.S. Jayesinghe SriLankan government is implementing a comprehensive Mine Action Programme with a target of making the country mine free by 2008. The programme also proposes to clear most of the high and medium priority areas by the end of 2006,except in Jaffna and some parts of Vanni.

"According to the estimates, one million landmines are in North East in about 730 villages and there are about 500,000 land mines in Jaffna. 50 per cent of these are already cleared now," he said.

"This programme also supports mine clearance in agricultural and commercial areas and for the reconstruction of infrastructure such as damaged hospitals, drinking water supply and many more," said the Secretary.

He said that Japan has been a leading donor for SriLanka since the ceasefire agreement was signed in 2002 and Japan has given 10 million US dollars regarding this throughout this time.

According to the Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake, the programme is fully owned, controlled and managed through the Ministry of Nation Building and Development with the technical support of the UNDP and UNICEF.The National Steering Committee chaired by the respective Government agents.

"The Ministry established the new de-mining unit with about 400 army personnel who are trained in humanitarian mine clearing. The three mine clearing machines gifted will be used by the clearing unit," he said.

"Most lost of life and limb caused of land mines. As responsible humanitarian government we acknowledge the State has the primary responsibility to safe guard the people and land from disasters. Though we work for a mine free SriLanka by 2008 hope would be able to achieve it before that," Prime minister said.

This asset could be utilized by the humanitarian de-mining unit of this ministry and other organization for mine clearing work when the International NGOs complete their activities in about two year.The INGOs and the Sri Lanka Army.

Japan Ambassodor, Akiyo Suda Japan will continuously help Srialnaka by 2008."Demining is one of the main tasks in our assistance. Itís not easy to achieve this target. We appreciate the target of SriLankan government to make mine free SriLanka by 2008,"he said.

"Implementing social and economic aspects are essential to the normality of life. We provide a vast assistance regarding rehabilitation and reconstruction with the goal of achieving lasting peace in the country,"Akiyo said.



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