Sri Lanka Army Humanitarian De-mining Unit (SLA-HDU) was assured more support and funds to purchase Mine Detection Dogs (MDDs) by the Special Envoy of the Anti-personnel Mine Ban Convention Prince Mired Raad Zeid Al-Hussein, who visited minefields in Muhamalai, Jaffna at the invitation of the President and the National Mine Action Centre of the Ministry of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs.
The visit of the Special Envoy added more significance to Sri Lanka at this stage since it was just less than three months ago only Sri Lanka became a signatory to the Anti-personnel Mine Ban Convention alias ‘Ottawa Treaty’ as the 163rd State.
Prince Mired Raad Zeid Al-Hussein, together with Minister of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs, D.M Swaminathan, representing the host, the President, Juan Carlos Ruan, Director, Implementation Support Unit of the Special Envoy, Ms Laila Rodriguez – Bloch of the Implementation Support Unit, Eng (Dr) Ponnaiah Suresh, Secretary to the Ministry of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs, diplomats, UN envoys, foreign officials, K.G.M.B Wickremasinghe, Head of Mine Action Operations at the Ministry, Vidya Abeygunawardene of the Sri Lanka Campaign to Ban Landmines, Gihan Indraguptha, Director / UN at Ministry of Foreign Affairs and several other officials in the retinue, visited those minefields in Muhamalai.
Prince Zeid Al-Hussein, visibly impressed with Sri Lanka Army’s Humanitarian De-mining Unit (SLA-HDU) tasks at ground level expressed his overwhelming satisfaction of the “well-organized, very well-planned and neatly-organized” ongoing de-mining work of the Sri Lanka Army and wanted his best wishes, blessings and greetings be conveyed to the Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake and Army de-miners alike at work in Muhamalai, according to Major General Darshana Hettiarachchi, Commander, Security Forces – Jaffna (SF-J) who represented the Commander of the Army, along with Brigadier Amith Seneviratne, Engineer Brigade Commander.
The Special Envoy saw for himself how Army de-miners using manual, mechanical and MDD methods continue with de-mining roles in three separate demonstrations. The Special Envoy assured the Army funds to purchase more MDDs and flail machines through the Ministry of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs in future since most of those machines are now more than six years old.
Pictures by Lalith Perera