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Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka flag

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

From July to December 2014 alone, MAG helped 20,890 people in Sri Lanka.

Photo: Sean Sutton/MAG


The problems

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 (UXO) 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.

How MAG is helping in Sri Lanka

MAG is helping Sri Lanka's Government move swiftly towards its goal of becoming a landmine-free nation. From July to December 2014 alone, we removed and destroyed 1,581 mines in Sri Lanka, returned 943,500m² of land to safe and productive use, and helped 20,890 men, women and children.

MAG is currently the only non-governmental organisation working in Mannar District, which accounts for 20 per cent of the country’s total remaining landmine contamination.

Considered Sri Lanka’s ‘Rice Bowl’ due to its agricultural potency, Mannar suffered greatly during the war, when many kilometres of defensive mine rows were laid. Their lasting legacy has rendered fertile land unusable and dangerous for the communities that are re-establishing their lives in the district.

But success is achievable. One of the worst hit areas during the civil war, Puthukudiyiruppu (or 'PTK'), was littered with explosive weapons, filled with abandoned military camps and nuisance minefields. In four years, MAG’s clearance has transformed the town, making land safe for the population to resettle and recover their lives and livelihoods. 

non-governmental organisationA non-governmental organisation, or NGO, is a not-for-profit group, principally independent from government, which is organised on a local, national or international level to address issues in support of the public good.

[Source: United Nations, www.unrol.org]

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.

How MAG works in Sri Lanka

MAG's integrated approach to landmine and UXO removal involves non-technical survey, and mechanical and manual clearance methods.

Non-technical surveyNon-Technical Surveys (NTS) involve collecting and analysing information - eg. through desk assessments, analysis of historical records, and location visits - to assess whether areas are contaminated by landmines/unexploded ordnance.

Other countries MAG works in

Africa

AngolaBurundiChadDemocratic Republic of CongoLibyaMaliSomaliaSouth Sudan

Asia

CambodiaLaosMyanmarPhilippinesVietnam

Central America

Honduras

Middle East

IraqLebanon

Our partners in Sri Lanka

MAG's work in Sri Lanka is supported by:

• Fibertek

• Japanese Government

US State Department's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement

Page updated: 28 January 2015

Our impact in Sri Lanka, July-December 2014

• Men, women and children we helped: 20,890

• Land we returned to safe and productive use: 1,326,076

Landmines removed & destroyed: 1,581

MAG in Sri Lanka

• Programme began: 2002

• Our main activities:
Landmine & unexploded ordnance removal
Cluster munition clearance
Explosive ordnance disposal
Survey

• Our work supports:
Development of infrastructure
National survey
Resettlement of internally displaced people
Sector research and development

About 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

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.

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