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* Japan grants US$ 860,500 for demining in Sri Lanka's North
Sat, Feb 9, 2013, 01:20 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Feb 09, Colombo: The Government of Japan has granted US$ 860,500 (approximately Rs. 108.7 million) to the mine removal organization, HALO Trust to expedite Sri Lankan government 's humanitarian demining efforts in the war-battered North.

Japanese Ambassador Nobuhito Hobo and the HALO Trust Programme Manager, in Sri Lanka, Bartholomew Digby signed the grant agreement Friday (08) at the Ambassador's residence in Colombo.

HALO Trust Programme Manager said the organization has been conducting mine clearance in the North in collaboration with the National Mine Action Center and the Sri Lankan Army since 2002.

The trust has employed over 1,000 locals, including women as deminers throughout Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Trincomalee and Mullaitivu districts.

He said that around 105 square kilometers were yet to be demined since the war ended in May 2009.

Digby said 2013 marks the tenth anniversary of the Japanese government's support for the HALO Trust, through its Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project.

"During this period, over 660 hectares of land, contaminated with landmines and explosive remnants of war, have been cleared by safely removing and destroying over 23,000 landmines and 1,400 items of unexploded ordnance. This has enabled the resettlement and resumption of livelihoods for thousands of residents, including those displaced in the last years of the war. It has also allowed for the development and renovation of infrastructure, including roads, reservoirs and schools," he said.

Speaking at the occasion Ambassador Hobo, said that Japanese assisted demining programs have enabled more than 30,000 people in Jaffna, Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts to recommence their livelihoods. The project will also provide employment to 209 vulnerable people.

Japan has been a major donor supporting mine clearance in Sri Lanka to accelerate the return and resettlement of internal displaced persons and facilitate recommencement of agriculture and other livelihood activities.

The government of Japan has provided a total of US$ 24 million since 2003 for demining projects in the North and East.

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