Sri Lanka says demining to continue next year

Sri Lankan authorities on Monday said that demining work in the war-ravaged north is not expected to be completed till the end of next year.

The National Mine Action Center said that approximately 94 percent of the areas which were mined in the north and east during the war between the Sri Lankan military and the Tamil Tiger rebels have now been cleared.

However Director of the National Mine Action Centre Monty Ranatunga told Xinhua that demining the remaining areas will still take time.

Ranatunga said no time frame has been set to complete the demining activities but they hope to complete it as soon as possible.

“It is not easy to clear the remaining areas. We will continue demining work in those areas in 2013 and by the end of 2013 we hope to carry out an assessment,” Ranatunga said.

He said that the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the UN Children’s agency UNICEF are providing various forms of assistance to the government in the demining program.

Meanwhile the UNDP office in Colombo denied reports that it has been asked to withdraw support for the demining program.

“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 said in an email to Xinhua.

Thousands on mines were placed during the 30 year war between the rebels and the military which killed or maimed several people and animals.

Following the end of the war three years ago the government began to resettle hundreds of people who were displaced in the fighting, but the resettlement process took time and is yet to be fully completed as a result of mines which are yet to be cleared. (Xinhua)