UN says de-mining not suspended

The United Nations (UN) has denied reports that it has withdrawn de-mining assistance to Sri Lanka amidst pressure from the military.

Reports had emerged over the past several weeks saying that the UN had been asked to suspend its de-mining assistance in the north and hand it over completely to the military.

“UNDP’s support to the Government of Sri Lanka on provision of technical assistance for planning and quality insurance of mine action continues,” the UNDP office in Colombo said in response to an emaild query.

Reports from the north said that the UN had been asked to withdraw from some areas amidst fears UN de-miners may come across cluster bombs used during the last stages of the 30 year war between the government and the LTTE.

The UN Resident Representative in Sri Lanka Subine Nandy had last month said that Sri Lanka has achieved excellent results in its demining programme.

The government has said that progress made in de-mining had helped to expedite the reconstruction and resettlement work and initiate numerous development programmes in the conflict affected areas. Initially 2061 Square Kilometers were confirmed as hazardous areas contaminated with mines, booby traps including IDS and other explosive.

By last month 1943 square Kilometers were cleared and around 118 square Kilo meters remained to be cleared.


Report by Easwaran Rutnam