Mar 06, Colombo: Special Envoy on Anti-personnel Mine Ban Convention Prince Mired Raad Zeid Al-Hussein, who is visiting Sri Lanka at the invitation of the Sri Lankan government, today assured more support to the Sri Lanka Army de-miners.
The Special Envoy has assured the Sri Lanka Army Humanitarian De-mining Unit (SLA-HDU) more new technical equipment and funds for purchase of more Mine Detection Dogs (MDDs).
Prince Mired visited the minefields in Muhamalai, Jaffna this morning (6) at the invitation of the President and the National Mine Action Centre of the Ministry of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs.
Special Envoy's visit today to the war ravaged region is of particular significance since Sri Lanka acceded to the Anti-personnel Mine Ban Convention on 13 December 2017 becoming its 163rd State Party.
Prince Zeid Al-Hussein, visibly impressed with Humanitarian De-mining Unit tasks at ground level expressed his overwhelming satisfaction of the "well-organized, very well-planned and neatly-organized" ongoing de-mining work of the Sri Lanka Army and wanted his best wishes, blessings and greetings be conveyed to the Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake and Army de-miners alike at work in Muhamalai, the Army Media Unit said.
During his stay in the field, the Special Envoy observed how Army de-miners using manual, mechanical and MDD methods continue with de-mining roles in three separate demonstrations.
Brigadier Amith Seneviratne, Engineer Brigade Commander presenting the Special Envoy with a briefing on the status quo of minefield operations and how SLA-HDU teams are conducting
manual, mechanical and MDD clearance operations in the minefields of Muhamalai claimed that nearly 77% of de-mining works has been completed by the SLA-HDU.
The Special Envoy assured the Army of funds for purchase of more MDDs and flail machines through the Ministry of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs in future since most of those machines are now more than six years old.
He extended his appreciation for the good work, being carried out by Army de-miners of the Sri Lanka Engineers (SLE) and assured all possible support for promotion of their endeavors during his stay at Muhamalai.
During his stay in Muhamalai, Prince Mired also observed the operations of other international mine clearing agencies, like SHARP, DASH, HALO Trust operating in Muhamalai and Indrapuram areas.
By December 31, 2017, more than 450 Army de-miners under the SLA-HDU team have succeeded in clearing 1,223.36 km2 in Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Vavuniya, Mannar, Trincomalee, Ampara, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Puttalam districts. Batticaloa district had been declared completely cleared of those explosive devices several months ago in 2017.
All de-mining agencies, including the SLA-HDU during those extensive de-mining operations have recovered 735,444 Anti-Personnel Mines (APMs), 2073 Anti-Tank Mines, 556,385 Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) as of the same date in the previous year.
At present, SLA-HDU with the highest number of de-miners in action is engaged in mine clearing operations with Delvon Association for Social Harmony (DASH), Skavita Humanitarian Assistance and Relief Project (SHARP), Mine Advisory Group (MAG) and Hazardous Area Life Support Organization (HALO Trust).
Minister of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs, D.M Swaminathan accompanied the Special Envoy Prince Mired on his visit to Muhamalai.