Australia provides Rs.128m for demining projects

[TamilNet, Monday, 03 April 2006, 10:48 GMT]
Announcing that Australian Government will provide AUS$1.7m for demining efforts in Sri Lanka, the Australian High Commissioner said in a press release issued Monday, "Clearing mines is a key factor in assisting the resettlement of people displaced during the conflict. As I have witnessed in Mannar, clearing mines opens schools for children, enables rural communities to access their fields and earn a living, and provides safe land for resettlement. It also demonstrates the concrete benefits that are flowing to ordinary people in the conflict-affected areas through maintaining the cease-fire."

Full text of the release follows:

Mining support by Australia
Australian High Commissioner, Dr Greg French, with an FSD deminer at work in Mannar.
Australia’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Dr Greg French, announced today that Australia will provide around $1.7 million Australian dollars (128 million rupees) to support the efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka to remove mines and unexploded ordinance in high priority areas by the end of 2008.

‘I welcome the announcement of the UN’s International Day for Mine Awareness and the efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka and our development partners, including Japan, the US, EU, Norway and India, to clear mines. I strongly support the newly drafted Mine Action Strategy by the Government which will coordinate all our efforts’, the High Commissioner stated.

‘With the support of the Australian Government and other donors, the number of mine related incidents has come down from around 15 per month immediately after the ceasefire in 2002, to between one and four per month today. I look forward to the day when, through our combined efforts, no Sri Lankans need fear the scourge of mines.

‘Clearing mines is a key factor in assisting the resettlement of people displaced during the conflict. As I have witnessed in Mannar, clearing mines opens schools for children, enables rural communities to access their fields and earn a living, and provides safe land for resettlement. It also demonstrates the concrete benefits that are flowing to ordinary people in the conflict-affected areas through maintaining the cease-fire’, the High Commissioner said.

‘The mine action funding announced today will be channelled through the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). FSD will receive $1.3 million Australian dollars (98 million rupees) to support mine surveying and clearance operations in Vavuniya and Mannar, help build local mine action skills and experience and assess the impact of mines on local communities. A further $350,000 Australian dollars (26 million rupees) will support UNDP’s Mine Action Program that is aimed at helping Sri Lanka develop the skills needed to manage and coordinate its mine action program.

As one of the original signatories of the Ottowa Convention, Australia is a leading contributor to international mine clearance, mine awareness and victim assistance programs. In July 2005, the Australian Foreign Minister, the Hon Alexander Downer MP, announced a further $75 million for mine action programs between 2005 and 2010, in addition to the $100 million spent by Australia on mine action in the previous decade.

 

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