Special Envoy on Anti Personnel Mine Ban Convention Assures More
Support to Army De-miners
Sri Lanka Army
Humanitarian De-mining Unit (SLA-HDU)
was assured more new technical
equipment and funds for purchase
of more Mine Detection Dogs (MDDs)
by HRH Prince Mired Raad Zeid
Al-Hussein, Special Envoy on
Anti-personnel Mine Ban
Convention, who visited
minefields in Muhamalai, Jaffna
this morning (6) at the
invitation of HE the President
and the National Mine Action
Centre of the Ministry of Prison
Resettlement and Hindu Religious
The visit of the Special Envoy adds more significance
to Sri Lanka at this stage since it was just less than three months ago
only Sri Lanka became a signatory to the Anti-personnel Mine Ban
Convention alias 'Ottawa Treaty' as the 163rd State.
The Special Envoy, Prince Mired Raad Zeid Al-Hussein,
together with Minister of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement
and Hindu Religious Affairs, Hon D.M Swaminathan, representing the host,
HE the President, Mr Juan Carlos Ruan, Director, Implementation Support
Unit of the Special Envoy, Ms Laila Rodriguez - Bloch of the
Implementation Support Unit, Eng (Dr) Ponnaiah Suresh, Secretary to the
Ministry of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu
Religious Affairs, diplomats, UN envoys, foreign officials, Mr K.G.M.B
Wickremasinghe, Head of Mine Action Operations at the Ministry, Mr Vidya
Abeygunawardene of the Sri Lanka Campaign to Ban Landmines, Mr Gihan
Indraguptha, Director / UN at Ministry of Foreign Affairs and several
other officials in the retinue, visited those minefields in Muhamalai.
Prince Zeid Al-Hussein, visibly impressed with Sri
Lanka Army's Humanitarian De-mining Unit (SLA-HDU) tasks at ground level
expressed his overwhelming satisfaction of the "well-organized, very
well-planned and neatly-organized" ongoing de-mining work of the Sri
Lanka Army and wanted his best wishes, blessings and greetings be
conveyed to the Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Mahesh
Senanayake and Army de-miners alike at work in Muhamalai, according to
Major General Darshana Hettiarachchi, Commander, Security Forces -
Jaffna (SF-J) who represented the Commander of the Army, along with
Brigadier Amith Seneviratne, Engineer Brigade Commander.
During his stay in the field, the Special Envoy saw
for himself how Army de-miners using manual, mechanical and MDD methods
continue with de-mining roles in three separate demonstrations. The
Special Envoy assured the Army of funds for purchase of more MDDs and
flail machines through the Ministry of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation,
Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs in future since most of those
machines are now more than six years old.
He extended his appreciation for the good work, being
carried out by Army de-miners of the Sri Lanka Engineers (SLE) and
assured all possible support for promotion of their endeavours during
his stay at Muhamalai.
Upon arrival at Muhamalai, the visiting Prince
Al-Hussein and the visiting Minister were welcomed by the Army
Commander's representative, Major General Darshana Hettiarachchi,
Commander, SF-J, together with Major General Laksiri Waduge, General
Officer Commanding, 52 Division, Brigadier Amith Seneviratne, Engineer
Brigade Commander and several other Senior Officers.
At the outset, Brigadier Amith Seneviratne, Engineer
Brigade Commander who claimed that nearly 77% of de-mining works has
been completed by the SLA-HDU made a presentation to the Special Envoy
with a briefing on the status quo of minefield operations and how
SLA-HDU teams are conducting manual, mechanical and MDD clearance
operations in the minefields of Muhamalai.
During his stay in Muhamalai, the Prince Al-Hussein
also had a look at how other international mine clearing agencies, like
SHARP, DASH, HALO Trust are operating in Muhamalai and Indrapuram areas.
He was also expected to meet the District Secretary for Jaffna, landmine
victims and survivors before he flew back to Colombo this afternoon (6).
During his three-day official visit, he is expected to call on HE the
President Maithripala Sirisena, Hon Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe,
Hon Minister of Foreign Affairs Thilak Marapana, UN officials, INGO
representatives and several other high ranking state officials.
By December 31, 2017, more than 450 Army de-miners
under the SLA-HDU team have succeeded in clearing 1,223.36 km2 in Jaffna,
Kilinochchi, Mullaittivu, Vavuniya, Mannar, Trincomalee, Ampara,
Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Puttlam districts. Batticaloa district had
been declared completely cleared of those explosive devices several
months ago in 2017.
All de-mining agencies, including the SLA-HDU during
those extensive de-mining operations have recovered 735,444 Anti
Personnel Mines (APMs), 2073 Anti Tank Mines, 556,385 Explosive Remnants
of War (ERW) as of the same date in the previous year. At present,
SLA-HDU with the highest number of de-miners in action is engaged in
mine clearing operations with Delvon Association for Social Harmony
(DASH), Skavita Humanitarian Assistance and Relief Project (SHARP), Mine
Advisory Group (MAG) and Hazardous Area Life Support Organization (HALO
The National Mine Action Centre (NMAC) formally
founded in 2010 currently functions under the Ministry of Prison
Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs on par
with International Mine Action Standards (IMAS).
Sri Lanka Army's Mine Detection Dog teams during the
years 2012, 2016 and 2017 won the Best MDD Award from the US Marshal
Legacy Institute after inspecting teams who arrived here recommended the
roles of MDDs and their handlers for such recognition.
The 'Convention on the Prohibition of the Use,
Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on
Their Destruction', typically referred to as the 'Ottawa Convention' or
'Mine Ban Treaty', which seeks to end the use of anti-personnel
landmines (APLs) worldwide was opened for signature on December 3, 1997,
and came into effect on March 1, 1999.
The SKAVITA Humanitarian Assistance and Relief Project
(SHARP) and Delvon Assistance for Social Harmony (DASH), the official
undertakers of the challenge in Sri Lanka have then been in the
forefront of giving this technical assistance to the Sri Lanka SLA- HDU.
SLA-HDU as at present operating under manual,
mechanical and MDD techniques for de-mining work currently possesses 10
MDDs, 4 MV4 flails, 307 de-miners, 226 F3 Mine Lab Detectors, 4 Bozena
Flails, 31 Flail operators, 18 MDD handlers and 20 medic/vet assistants.
Courtesy : Army Media Unit