After almost three years living in camps, 123 families have been able to return to their homes in Sri Lanka’s Rice Bowl region and given a real opportunity to begin rebuilding their lives after years of war, thanks to MAG.
Returning home [click]
In a matter of weeks MAG released 700,000 square metres of safe land, allowing the families safe access to their land and homes once more.
In October 2009, MAG Sri Lanka’s survey and clearance teams began working in Adampan, a district in the northwest Mannar region of Sri Lanka, famed for its paddy fields.
It was unknown just how badly contaminated with landmines and other deadly remnants of conflict the land might be. MAG’s survey teams began careful analysis of the area, and in just a few weeks had released 293,443 square metres of safe land that was not contaminated but that people had previously been too frightened to use.
Hidden menace: a barely visible landmine.
[Photo, top: A MAG landmine clearance operator at work near a house]
Surveys showed, however, that parts of the land in Adampan did contain some of the million or so landmines believed to have been planted throughout Sri Lanka during the 27-year-long civil war.
MAG’s clearance teams went to work in the area and discovered 109 items of lethal unexploded ordnance as well as 155 anti-personnel landmines buried in the soil. All of these deadly items were safely removed and destroyed, releasing another 395,525 square metres of land back to the local community.
Mr Seemanpillai Sagayarasa, the Government’s representative for Adampan district, has lived there all his life. He explained to MAG how the newly cleared land would have huge economic benefits to the families returning to the region.
“People are facing many problems as their houses and much of the infrastructure have been damaged during the war,” he said.
Badly damaged by war: Adampan hospital.
[Photos: MAG Sri Lanka]
“The paddy fields are mined and people suffer from low incomes because of this. But the Agricultural Department has said they will plough two acres of land for each family free of charge when it is safe from mines, and they will provide water pumps at low prices,” he added. Before the conflict, the fertile “Rice Bowl” area produced around 50 bags of rice per hectare, or 10,000 square metres of land, each bag being worth around 2,000 rupees.
For a family with five hectares of land this could provide earnings of a million rupees (around $9,000) over the next two harvests, a huge increase in income and a real opportunity to begin rebuilding their lives after years of war.
As part of their operations in Adampan MAG also cleared homes belonging to 30 families from the village, meaning they could return immediately, knowing they were safe. Read their stories...
MAG would like to express its thanks to the following donor to its Sri Lanka operations: AusAID; Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA); UK Department for International Development (DFID); Good Gifts; The Kirby Laing Foundation; Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, US Department of State; Stichting Vluchteling; TUUT Charitable Trust. Click on Tags below for related articles.
1 February 2010