It has been 12 months since MAG welcomed members of the England cricket team to Sri Lanka to see the vital work being carried out to save the lives of people living under threat of landmines.
In partnership with the British High Commission, on November 19 2018, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Keaton Jennings and Olly Stone visited Periyamadu in the north-west of the country, an area plagued by heavy landmine contamination.
In the months following this, MAG teams cleared the area, removing more than 200 landmines in the process and giving more than 32,000m² of land back to the community.
The cricket team’s visit played a vital role in raising the profile of MAG’s work, having been featured in many high profile news outlets in the UK and internationally.
Valentina Stivanello, Sri Lanka country director for MAG, said: “The visit from the England cricket team has helped to raise awareness of the mine contamination here in Sri Lanka, where countless families are still living with the legacy of civil war.
“Our efforts are continuing to make the land safe for as many people as possible so that the communities can return to their homes and bring their land back into use.”
During their trip the players were briefed on landmine contamination in Sri Lanka before being shown the different types of mines MAG discovers and watching a demonstration from the demining team.
The cricketers then put on body armour and walked through a recently cleared minefield closely supervised by experienced MAG staff.
Huge progress has been made since their visit and the successful operation finished in January 2019, having benefited more than 1,600 people in the area.
Houses are now being rebuilt on the same spot and the land can be used safely by families once more.
MAG trustee Neil Turton recently visited the area, reporting on the astounding progress that has been made in the past 12 months.
“Families are coming back here after the war,” he said “There are new houses being built, five houses on the land that the England cricket team visited and 2,500 people hopefully returning to a village that was here before the conflict.”
“We want to thank them for giving profile to the issue, it is really appreciated and the families here one year on have really benefitted from everything that MAG has done that they have helped to highlight.
“They are welcome back anytime to see more of our work and the land now it is free.”
MAG has been working in Sri Lanka since 2002 locating and removing landmines and other unexploded bombs.
Since the end of the conflict in 2009, MAG has released more than 36 million square metres of land, cleared 45,152 anti-personnel mines, 76 anti-tank mines and 6,168 items of other explosive remnants of war.
Find out more about our work in Sri Lanka.