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* U.S. donates cricket bats in northern Sri Lanka to support demining
Wed, Jan 30, 2013, 08:17 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Jan 30, Colombo: The United States has donated cricket bats to the youth in Sri Lanka's conflict-affected North to raise awareness in mines and the demining in the region, the U.S. Embassy in Colombo said in a release.

The U.S. Ambassador in Colombo Michele J. Sison on Sunday (January 27) distributed cricket bats to students at the American Corner in Jaffna with the message "Mines Destroy Lives" in Tamil and Sinhala.

Ambassador Sison explained to members of the Jaffna Youth Forum that mines and unexploded ordnances should only be handled by professionals.

The State Department's Bureau of Political Military Affairs /Weapons Reduction and Abatement (PM/WRA) together with the U.S. Embassy has produced the bats.

The visiting U.S. delegation of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State James Moore, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Vikram Singh, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Jane Zimmerman joined the Ambassador Sison in the occasion.

The United States is the largest international donor to demining activities in Sri Lanka. Since 1993, the U.S. Government has provided over $34.5million to aid Sri Lanka's demining activities and donated more than $5million to support demining in 2012 alone.

The Embassy said it will continue to support demining efforts by NGOs and the Sri Lankan Army's Humanitarian Demining Unit in 2013 and onwards, in an effort to ensure no one dies from a mine or unexploded bomb again.

The Youth Forum was initiated by the American Corner in Jaffna following a series of theater performances and workshops discussing social issues between students. The Forum meets regularly at the American Corner for discussions led by Sri Lankan alumni of U.S. exchange programs. Some Youth Forum members joined their counterparts at the Kandy Youth Forum in October for a campaign to promote environmental awareness to the public of Kandy through street theater and drama. This project links Tamil and Sinhala students to provide a venue for discussion of routine concerns that often go unaddressed in the post-war environment.

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