Priyanee Wijesekara, the Ambassador for Sri Lanka to Austria was today quoted by the Foreign Ministry as telling the 16th Meeting of the States Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti–Personnel Mines and on their Destruction in Vienna, Austria that mine clearance was made a priority in Sri Lanka 15 years ago in 2002, with the launch of the National Mine Action Programme.
On 13th December, Sri Lanka took the important step of joining the majority of countries in the world that are parties to the Convention on the prohibition of the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines and on their destruction.
“Although we are the youngest State Party to the Convention, having deposited the Instrument of Accession just a few days ago, mine clearance was made a priority in my country 15 years ago in 2002, with the launch of the National Mine Action Programme. Ours is a country and a people that have faced the harrowing ordeal of the absolute terror and indiscriminate nature of these weapons. We have witnessed at first hand, in our country, the devastation they cause to life, and how productive land is turned to waste, and fields of terror,” she said.
Priyanee Wijesekara said that Sri Lanka had set a goal of creating a ‘mine and Explosive Remnants of War free environment’ that would facilitate resettlement and development, long before acceding to the Convention.
“We are pleased to inform this forum that we have succeeded in clearing 98% of the contaminated areas in our country. This we achieved with the generous assistance and cooperation received from partner countries and donors as well as the United Nations and Non-Governmental Organisations. I take this opportunity therefore, to express the deepest appreciation of the Government of Sri Lanka for the assistance provided by all countries and organisations for mine-clearance and mine-risk-awareness efforts in Sri Lanka,” she said.
Priyanee Wijesekara said that the National Unity Government formed in Sri Lanka, following the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections in 2015, works with determination towards realizing the vision of a peaceful, stable, reconciled and prosperous nation for the benefit of all its citizens. (Colombo Gazette)