About Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is located on a beautiful island set off the coast of India, with pristine beaches, diverse landscapes, and historical monuments decorating its coasts. A long and bitter civil war fueled by ethnic tensions between the majority Sinhalese in the north, south and western parts of the island, and the Tami minority in the northeast, now taint what could have been a dream destination spot for tourists. This war left over 70,000 people dead and more than 1 million people forced to flee their homes.
The war 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.
The U.S. State Department's Weapons Removal and Abatement office awards grants to MAG America to clear land for landmine affected communities around the world. Learn more about WRA and Sri Lanka here.