Canada supports Sri Lanka’s peace-building efforts

Demining-team-ANThe Canadian Government continues to support efforts to rid the country of landmines in villages ravaged by years of Sri Lankan civil war. An effort with an end in sight.

The Government is providing CAD850,000 in 2015-2016 to non-governmental organization Mines Advisory Group (MAG) to keep thousands of men, women and children safe from the mines and unexploded bombs that continue to litter the land six years after the end of the country’s long conflict

Speaking from a minefield in Mannar, the High Commissioner of Canada to Sri Lanka and Maldives, Shelley Whiting said: “The demining activities that we had the honour of seeing today underscored for me the critical importance of demining work in Sri Lanka.

“Clearance of landmines is a necessary precursor to peace and security for all Sri Lankans and is a key component of Sri Lanka’s broader plans for reconciliation and resettlement. Canada’s support to MAG is playing an important role in helping Sri Lanka meet its objective of being mine-impact free by 2020. Seeing MAG’s work today and noting the level of strong and constructive coordination with government at all levels, I am confident that this objective will be met.”

These deadly remnants of war prevent farmers from being able to use their land, restrict access to water sources, and hinder resettlement plans for thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) who were forced to flee during periods of prolonged fighting.

With continued international support, MAG anticipates that the entire country can be free from the impact of mines by 2020.

MAG Sri Lanka Country Director Alistair Moir said: “Sri Lanka remains a country where MAG removes a staggering amount of landmines. Each one that is removed brings greater safety and less fear for families whoíd been living with the daily threat of death and injury. Safe land means people can move around freely and use farmland, which has such a sustained and positive impact on their lives and livelihoods.

“This is the tangible nature of our work, and we very much look forward to the Government of Sri Lanka declaring a status of ‘mine impact free’ before 2020. Canadian funds have been and remain vital in achieving this.”

During 2015, MAG removed 8,776 landmines and unexploded bombs in Sri Lanka. In addition, more than 25 million square metres of land has been released in 2015 – either cleared of danger or deemed to be safe following survey – enabling thousands of people to rebuild their lives.

High Commissioner Whiting added: “Canada’s support builds on the significant work already undertaken in mine clearing in the country by the Government of Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan army and international demining organizations such as MAG.

“The devastating impact of landmines on civilians is without question. It is my hope that the considerable work undertaken by the Government of Sri Lanka with the support of partners such as Canada, will save lives, facilitate returns and lead to eventual accession by Sri Lanka of relevant international treaties aimed at bringing an end to the use of these indiscriminate weapons.” (Colombo Gazette/Trust.Org)

2 COMMENTS

  1. The above news item which also appeared in the Adaderana.lk news 18th., December with the above photograph was indeed something important in the context of Canada – Sri Lanka diplomatic and friendly relations. This news item may be expressing Canada’s solidarity towards Sri Lanka in making the North of Sri Lanka finally free of landmines, but the pioneers of this programme, though they are patriots living in Canada, 3 or 4 members of SLUNA and the especially the writer of this article, pioneered the engagement of Canada in initiating the assistance for landmine clearing in the North, by creating a dialogue and briefing the Canadian political authorities and the then Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International relations – Hon. Deepak Obhrai of the former Hon. Stephen Haper government in August 2009. The International Community had given a deadline of 180 days to Sri Lanka to clear the landmines in the Northern and Wanni district to resettle the Sri Lankan Tamils who were living in temporary camps in Manik Farm and other sites in the Wanni/Mannar areas, which GENEVA claimed as a violation of Human Rights. A one to one meeting held at the Canadian Immigration and Citizenship office in Toronto with Hon. Deepak Obhrai, his officials and a Sri Lanka-Canadian citizen’s delegation comprising of Mahinda, Gunesekera, Lawyer Hasaka Ratnamalala, Lenin Benedict and the writer (Noor Nizam) the same month stressed the need for landmine clearing machinery and equipment to Sri Lanka if the 180 day deadline was to be met. At this meeting a strong LTTE representative group of the Tamil diaspora comprising of around 8 members, some being lawyers were present to counter our request. We were not informed of their participation at this meeting until they arrived at the meeting table on that day.
    Presenting our case with formidable reasons, we were able to counter all the allegations of the LTTE representative group and convince Hon. Deepak Obhrai to make a statement that he was going to advice the government appropriate measures to support landmine clearing in the North of Sri Lanka. At one stage of the discussion, the Hon. Deepak Obhrai reprimanded the LTTE front group not to tell lies and distort facts, because he said that he had visited Sri Lanka along with the Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for Foreign Affairs Lawrence Canon, from July 5 to July 7 2009 and seen for himself the truth in the North and East. Thus the “Patriotic” Sri Lankan-Canadian citizens were able to render a yeoman service to Sri Lankan as a whole and especially the Tamils of the North to expedite the clearing of landmines in the North and Wanni districts. Within 4 – 5days of this discussion, Hon. Basil Rajapaksa got a call from the then Canadian High Commissioner in Colombo informing the support from Canada for landmine clearing in the North with immediate effect. They offered assistance to airlift 5 land clearing machines promptly. Thus commenced this landmine clearing support from Canada to Sri Lanka. Sorry to state, NO politicians or diplomats were involved in this endeavor. These are some of the untold stories of the dedicated work that were done by Patriotic Sri Lankan-Canadian citizens during the difficult times that Sri Lanka went through fighting the war, winning and resettling the IDP’s in the North and East. Noor Nizam – Peace and Political Activist & Political Communication Researcher (Canada.)

  2. Tamil people should consider creating their dream “state” in Canada or in Norway. These are the two countries continue with ‘mafia’ type relationship with Tamil Tiger Terrorism.

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