Some of the Sri Lankan NGO staff who received Mine Risk Education training from MAG.
MAG has trained 154 staff from Sri Lankan non-governmental organisations in Mine Risk Education, to reduce the risk of death and injuries from landmines and unexploded ordnance.
As a result of the conflict between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam, many parts of Sri Lanka are highly contaminated by remnants of conflict.
The Northern Province was the focal point of the final hostilities and is the area most severely affected. Nearly 300,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who fled the area because of the fighting were accommodated in temporary camps around Vavuniya [marked on the map, left].
Many of these have now returned home as part of the Government’s resettlement activities, though around 26,000 IDPs remain displaced in the north according to the most recent figures from the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs1.
The large amounts of contamination meant it was impossible for clearance to keep pace with the returns process. IDPs therefore have had to come back to places where there is either still a residual risk of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO), or where hazardous areas have actually been identified.
UNICEF has funded MAG’s six-month project, from July to the end of 2010, to build the capacity of local NGOs to provide Mine Risk Education (MRE) in the Northern Province within IDP camps and areas where people are returning, as well as other places where a mine risk remains, particularly in the Eastern Province.
MAG instructors and participants at the final training session.
[Photos: MAG Sri Lanka]
MRE plays a crucial role in increasing the awareness amongst IDPs, returnees and other at-risk groups about mine and UXO hazards, and encouraging safe behaviour.
Participants at the courses, the last of which took place on 4 December, received training and technical support in effective and efficient MRE provision, more accurate data gathering, and enhancing coordination with other mine action activities and the returns process.
Mrs Maria Vathanie, project assistant for UNICEF, is in charge of the coordination of MRE and child protection activities in the district of Trincomalee. Maria participated in the last training session:
“The training was really practical and the fact that it was in Tamil language is definitely a plus,” she said. “It has allowed participants to interact easily, exchange with the trainers and learn from the experience of other trainees.”
Mr Sahidu works within the military’s Humanitarian Demining Unit in Jaffna and received training along with another colleague from the Sri Lankan army:
“I’m happy that we could attend this course. Few of us are able to speak Tamil in our unit and before this training I didn’t feel capable of delivering MRE without any support. I learned a lot during this session. After this week, I now feel capable of talking to the population in the villages and providing Mine Risk Education.”
Amongst those who also completed the courses were staff from national MRE providers Community Trust Fund (CTF) Sarvodiya, Rural Development Foundation (RDF), Social Organizations Networking for Development (SOND), EHED/Caritas and Humanitarian Demining Unit. In addition, participants from Horizon, a demining agency from India, UNICEF field offices and UNDP District Mine Action Quality Assurance staff were also trained.
[Note: 1 Figure from 8 October 2010]
14 December 2010
- Why does MAG work in Sri Lanka?
- Latest news, case studies and reports from MAG Sri Lanka
- More on Mine Risk Education
- UNICEF website [external link]