Sept 16, Colombo: The Government of Japan has decided to provide a total sum of US$ 1,263,112 (approx. Rs. 190 million) to SKAVITA Humanitarian Assistance and Relief Project (SHARP) and HALO Trust for humanitarian demining in Northern Sri Lanka.
The Grant Contract was signed between Ambassador of Japan Kenichi Suganuma, and Lt Col (Retd) V.S.M. Sarath Jayawardhene, Programme Manager of SHARP and Ms. Fiona Kilpatrick, Programme Manager of HALO Trust, respectively, on 12th September 2017 at the Embassy of Japan in Colombo.
SHARP will receive US$ 652,609 from this grant agreement, while HALO Trust will receive US$ 610,503. It is expected that the two projects would contribute to the efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka in making mine contaminated areas safe, enabling the resettlement of the displaced people and to resume their livelihoods in the Northern region.
Japan has been a major donor in the area of mine clearance in Sri Lanka since 2003, with a total sum of approximately US$ 31.3 million through its Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project (GGP). This contribution helps to accelerate and facilitate the resettlement and recommencement of agriculture and other livelihood activities of the Internal Displaced Persons (IDPs), in view of the 2020 target of the government of Sri Lanka to be mine impact free.
Commenting on the provision of this grant, Lt Col (Retd) V.S.M. Sarath Jayawardhene said "For the second successive year, the Japanese Embassy in Sri Lanka has come forward to provide funds through the GGP for SHARP to carry out demining clearance work in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka.
"We believe that this commitment from the Government of Japan and SHARP will pave the way to achieve the goal of a Mine free Sri Lanka in 2020."
Last year, the Embassy strengthened their commitment towards the objective of a mine free Sri Lanka by supporting SHARP from the beginning of our demining operations. SHARP which is the second local demining agency is currently carrying out demining operations in Muhumalai area which is the most heavily mined area in the North.
Ms. Fiona Kilpatrick said since 2003 the Government of Japan has given unwavering support to HALO and the Mine Action community in Sri Lanka.
"Such a commitment has enabled our organization to continue the clearance of the highest priority minefields in the country. This saves lives, enables resettlement and reconstruction of critical infrastructure, and facilitates the resumption of livelihoods for thousands. In 2017 alone Japanese funding has allowed our teams to remove nearly 2,000 mines and other explosive items from over 20 hectares of land, while since 2003 we have cleared over 300 hectares. This was crucial in making it possible for over 3,000 Sri Lankans to safely return home and nearly 11,000 more in surrounding areas who can now use that land, thus enabling Sri Lanka to recover from the decades of conflict. Even after many years of mine clearance the remaining challenge is significant. But with continuing Japanese support, together with the national Government and the Mine Action community, we can achieve the goal of a mine impact free Sri Lanka."