UNDP steps up efforts to support demining initiatives of the Government in the North
UNDP has stepped up efforts to support the demining initiative led by the Government in the North. UNDP’s Support to Mine Action Project will be providing technical equipment and machinery to the Humanitarian Demining Unit (HDU), which was set up under the Ministry of Nation-Building and Estate Infrastructure Development.
The increased capacity will support the demining efforts in the Districts of Mannar, Vavuniya, Jaffna, Killinochchi and Mulaitivu and will benefit over 250,000 IDPs by facilitating a return to their homes and developing infrastructure and livelihood in the resettled areas.
Over US $ 2 million, received from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), by UNDP and UNHCR, will be used for this initiative. The equipment provided to the HDU will include metal detectors, large loop detectors, personal protective equipment, including helmets with visors for 200 deminers and three mini flail machines. In addition to the equipment, the funding will also be used to appoint a Technical Advisor whose role would be to provide technical support and ensure that mine survey and clearance activities are carried out according to Sri Lanka’s National Mine Action Standards.
A major obstacle to resettling the IDPs has been the considerable mine clearance activities that need to take place before people can return to their place of origin. More than two decades of war have caused significant mine and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) contamination throughout the North and East of Sri Lanka.
There are several major constraints with regard to demining. The technical assistance would be useful in building the capacity of the District Mine Action Offices especially with regard to quality assurance and quality control. The procurement of demining equipment will ensure that demining operations in the North are expedited while ensuring that the completed tasks conform to Sri Lanka’s Mine Action Standards. This will also support the Government’s plan to resettle the majority of the IDPs by January 2010.