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Sri Lanka

The Sri Lankan civil war left the country’s northern and eastern districts littered with landmines and other explosive weapons.

Children in Mannar District, Sri Lanka

Photo: Sean Sutton/MAG

By the time Sri Lanka’s longstanding conflict between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam finally ended in 2009, around 300,000 people had been displaced from their homes by the fighting.

The conflict left the country’s northern and eastern districts contaminated by landmines, unexploded ordnance and improvised explosive devices, hindering resettlement plans and prevented returning communities from rebuilding their lives and re-establishing their livelihoods.

Contaminated land continues to restrict access to paddy fields, water sources and access routes, and pose safety concerns for development agencies implementing rehabilitation projects.

LandminesA landmine is defined by the Mine Ban Treaty as "a munition designed to be placed under, on or near the ground or other surface area and to be exploded by the presence, proximity or contact of a person or a vehicle."

Landmines are generally divided into two main groups - anti-personnel and anti-tank - and have four main component parts: an outer structure made of either plastic, wood, metal, Bakelite, rubber or even glass; a fuse or firing mechanism; a detonator; and high explosives.

Some contain thousands of pieces of shrapnel, designed to fire out to great distances, while others have been made with a minimum amount of metal and are therefore difficult to detect using metal detectors.
Unexploded ordnanceExplosive weapons - such as bombs, rockets, missiles, mortars and grenades - that did not explode when they were used and still pose a risk of detonation.

Our work here in 2013

landmine icon

Landmines removed and destroyed: 5,564

UXO icon

Unexploded ordnance removed and destroyed: 563

Explosion icon

Explosive Ordnance Disposal spot tasks: 352

MRE icon

Risk Education safety sessions given: 143

Family icon

Men, women and children we helped directly: 12,570

LandminesA landmine is defined by the Mine Ban Treaty as "a munition designed to be placed under, on or near the ground or other surface area and to be exploded by the presence, proximity or contact of a person or a vehicle."

Landmines are generally divided into two main groups - anti-personnel and anti-tank - and have four main component parts: an outer structure made of either plastic, wood, metal, Bakelite, rubber or even glass; a fuse or firing mechanism; a detonator; and high explosives.

Some contain thousands of pieces of shrapnel, designed to fire out to great distances, while others have been made with a minimum amount of metal and are therefore difficult to detect using metal detectors.
Unexploded ordnanceExplosive weapons - such as bombs, rockets, missiles, mortars and grenades - that did not explode when they were used and still pose a risk of detonation.Explosive Ordnance Disposal'Explosive Ordnance Disposal' (EOD) is the safe removal and controlled destruction of unexploded ordnance.

'Unexploded ordnance' refers to explosive weapons - such as bombs, rockets, missiles, mortars and grenades - that did not explode when they were used and still pose a risk of detonation.
Risk EducationRisk Education (or Mine Risk Education) refers to activities that seek to reduce the risk of death and injury from landmines and other explosive weapons, and lessen their social and economic impact.

Risk Education includes the provision of safety messages to at-risk individuals and communities, raising awareness of the dangers and promoting safe behaviour.

Before, we did not attempt to come here because we were told that our land was contaminated with landmines... Read more

LandminesA landmine is defined by the Mine Ban Treaty as "a munition designed to be placed under, on or near the ground or other surface area and to be exploded by the presence, proximity or contact of a person or a vehicle."

Landmines are generally divided into two main groups - anti-personnel and anti-tank - and have four main component parts: an outer structure made of either plastic, wood, metal, Bakelite, rubber or even glass; a fuse or firing mechanism; a detonator; and high explosives.

Some contain thousands of pieces of shrapnel, designed to fire out to great distances, while others have been made with a minimum amount of metal and are therefore difficult to detect using metal detectors.

Photo gallery: 'Healing the wounds'

The people returning home following the Sri Lankan civil war...

[All photos: Sean Sutton/MAG, January 2011]

Sri Lankan deminers: in their own words

Meet the members of an all-female Mine Action Team...

[All photos & interviews: Sean Sutton/MAG, January 2011]

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Sri Lanka flagAbout Sri Lanka

• Population: 20.33 million

• Life expectancy: 75 years

• Gross National Income per capita: US $2,920

• People with access to safe drinking water: 91%

• People below the poverty line: approx. 9%

Figures: CIA, UNDP, UN Water, World Bank

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