Photo Gallery: Post-War Sri Lanka
By making land safe, MAG is helping people in Sri Lanka to rebuild their lives, livelihoods and futures following the civil war.
Everyone has a right to live in safety and free from fear.
Sri Lanka's civil war left the country’s northern and eastern districts severely contaminated by landmines and unexploded bombs. Puthukkudiyruppu – commonly known as 'PTK' – was one of the most important strongholds of the Tamil Tigers during the conflict, and the scene of some of the final battles in 2009. During months of very heavy fighting, more than 11,700 families, most of whom had already suffered terribly after 30 years of war, fled from PTK. Life is returning to normal now that people have returned home – enabled by the demining teams that made the land safe from the mines and bombs left behind.
Everyone has a right to hope for a better future.
Rayuppu and Mary returned home in late-2012. "We came back after MAG cleared our land [of mines and unexploded bombs] – we are very happy you have done that," said Rayuppu. "We have very little money and things are hard for us. It was so different before the war: I had a small rice mill and a saw mill here, but now all of that has been destroyed. Things are slowly getting better, though. We have our land and the remains of our house, and we can slowly rebuild that. If it weren't for MAG we wouldn't have even that and we would have no chance to live."
We find landmines before children do.
Children at PTK Roman Catholic Viyalayam school. This area was cleared of landmines and unexploded bombs by MAG in 2012. Now, 25 teachers teach 450 children here. It is one of seven schools MAG cleared in PTK.
We work with communities to understand how they are affected and what their needs are.
St Joseph's Church, built in 1745, was so damaged in the civil war that it had to be pulled down. On Sunday mornings, hundreds of people are able to attend mass here, worshipping in makeshift buildings and in the open, after MAG made the land safe. "This church land and the cemetery was contaminated by landmines and unexploded bombs," said the parish priest. "We are now building a new church here. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank MAG and wish you good luck to support people like us in Sri Lanka and around the world in other mine-affected countries."
We employ and train local people in mine clearance.
Vinitha deals with an anti-personnel landmine. "I am proud to be a Team Leader at MAG," she said. "I look after my staff, treat everyone equally, and encourage them to work together like brothers and sisters. I am so happy to be a part of MAG because we are carrying out life-saving work for the people."
We give people the opportunity to rebuild their lives.
"We have been here for two months and we are progressing well with building our new house," said Pratheba, pictured. "The MAG teams are saving our lives, not just from explosives but because we can now safely farm our land. We want to live happily with our children and grow coconuts, peanuts and seasonal vegetables."
We help people find ways to live alongside the danger of landmines and unexploded bombs.
Community Liaison staff provide life-saving mine risk education lessons to the villagers. This area was heavily fought-over and there is a threat from unexploded bombs in surrounding areas not yet cleared.
Mines and unexploded bombs kill and maim thousands of men, women and children each year.
Ketheeswaran cycles to the market with her daughter: "I was walking with my husband when I stood on a mine," she said. "I had no idea there were mines there. The blast took off my left leg, it was in pieces. It also hit my husband. He lost an eye." That was in 2006. "Our lives have been hard, but now it is much better: we are here on cleared land."
It is not fair, and it is not right, that millions of people are trapped in danger and poverty for years after wars are over.
Rathika and her son Dilakson have been back home for three years. "The land is safe and we are safe. We grow vegetables and have chickens. We have had help to rebuild our house from the Government and NGOs, but we could not be here at all if the landmines were still here."
MAG's work in Sri Lanka is supported by: Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada; Humanitarian Demining Research & Development Program; Japanese Government; US State Department's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement.
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Page published: 25 June 2015