June 09, Geneva: Sri Lanka is making steady progress towards the goal of mine free status and remains hopeful of completing mine action by 2020, Sri Lanka Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva Ambassador A.L.A. Azeez said.
Addressing the forum on 'individualized approach' on the sidelines of the Intersessional Meeting of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention on Friday in Geneva, Ambassador Azeez recounted how Sri Lanka achieved success in what was considered a perilous task in 2009.
Ambassador Azeez highlighted Sri Lanka's engagement in demining activity as one which had its own complexity and uniqueness. The National Policy on Reconciliation and Co-existence, in place in Sri Lanka since 2017, both underpinned and nourished the ongoing programs of peacebuilding and development in the country, he stressed.
The Ambassador said the tremendous amount of demining work that was done on the ground, paving the way for the release of lands and resettlement of affected persons, makes the case of Sri Lanka distinct from other situations that experienced similar challenges.
He said the Government of Sri Lanka committed substantial funds to sustain the program throughout the years, with adequate provision of human resources as well, leading to the capacity building, predictability and sustainability of operation, and consolidation of the gains made.
Ambassador Azeez said while Sri Lanka makes steady progress towards the goal of mine free status by 2020, the country would also be able to share its knowledge and expertise with others who are engaged in mine action program in different regions.
The Sri Lanka delegation to the Intersessional Meeting that took place in Geneva from 7-8 June, was led by P. Suresh, Secretary to the Ministry of Resettlement, Rehabilitation, Northern Development and Hindu Religious Affairs and Director of the National Mine Action Centre.
Delivering a national statement at the Intersessional Meeting, he thanked the partner countries and partner organizations for the assistance provided for Sri Lanka Mine Action Programme, which he stated was expected to be completed by 2020.