Japanese Ambassador in Sri Lanka – Mr. Mizukoshi Hideaki yesterday (Nov. 27) signed the grant contracts of two demining projects under the scheme of “Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP)”, with Ms. Cristy McLennan, Country Director of the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) and Mr. Stephen Hall, Programme Manager of the HALO Trust.
The Government of Japan has provided a total sum of US$ 729,925 (approx. Rs. 238 million) for these two projects with MAG and the HALO Trust to extend its support for humanitarian demining activities in the Northern and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka. Japan has been a major donor in demining activities in Sri Lanka since 2002, and the total amount of assistance exceeds US$ 44 million.
It is expected that these projects by MAG and HALO will together contribute to resettlement and livelihood support for a total of 10,977 IDPs (internally displaced people) in the Northern and Eastern provinces.
The development of the conflict-affected areas is one of the priority areas of Japan’s official development assistance policy to Sri Lanka.
Ambassador Mizukoshi strongly reiterated that the Government of Japan has been committing its role as a leading donor in demining activities and will continue to provide the necessary support to achieve “Mine-Impact-Free Sri Lanka”.
Commenting on the provision of this grant, Ms. Cristy McLennan stated;
“Since the beginning of the Sri Lanka Mine Action programme in 2002, Japan has been a major donor in the area of mine clearance. Through assistance from the Government of Japan alone, MAG has released over 3,300,000 square meters of contaminated land and removed more than 16,500 Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) remaining in the ground from over two decades of conflict. This new project is expected to clear an additional 194,896 square meters of ground in the North and East of Sri Lanka, reducing the threat of death and injury to resident and returning communities and enhancing the livelihoods of 5,577 people. It is expected that the land made safe through this project will be used for agricultural development, access to infrastructure as well as to natural resources. MAG has worked in Sri Lanka since 2002 to help rid the country of the scourge of landmines and other ERW, employing over 1,000 staff across eight districts of the country. We are so proud to be receiving this critical, continued support from the Government of Japan today and we hope our partnership continues until Sri Lanka becomes mine free.”
Mr. Stephen Hall stated; “The HALO Trust is very grateful to the Government of Japan for its continued trust and generous support – they are our longest-supporting donor. 21 years of humanitarian assistance to clear the explosive remnants of war in Northern Sri Lanka has helped HALO to find and destroy over 283,000 anti-personnel landmines and release 117 km2 of previously contaminated land. This has enabled the safe resettlement of over 280,000 internally displaced people (IDPs). Funding from Japan also provides a stable income and livelihood for hundreds of local women and men. The continued support from the Government of Japan to The HALO Trust and three other mine action operators is bringing the Government of Sri Lanka one step closer to towards meeting its Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty obligations of clearing the country of all known mine and other explosive contamination by 1 June 2028”.