Environment considered the ‘silent victim of war’ in Sri Lanka

The environment has been considered the ‘silent victim of war’ in Sri Lanka, a report released by Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) said.

The report said that the war the post-war development drive has caused harmful effects to the environment and the people that survive from it in the impacted provinces and beyond.

The report titled ‘The reverberating environmental impacts from the use of explosive weapons in Sri Lanka’ said that the war is thought to have been a distraction from Sri Lanka’s environmental commitments for many years,

“The environment has been considered the ‘silent victim of war’, and it is clear that this remains the case in Sri Lanka. Little research has been carried out to understand the extent of the conflicts harm on the environment, particularly on vegetation and wildlife. However, it is clear that there have been significant consequences. It is likely that, particularly due to the drastic increase in militarisation of the region that still remains in the province today, the impacts on farming and agriculture will continue for years to come,” the report said.

The report said that whilst the impact of bombardment during the war as well as the resulting Unexploded ordnance (UXO) and contamination has had some impact on wildlife populations, what has had greater impact is the pace of the post-war development drive.

As Sri Lanka has sought to increase development and particularly tourism infrastructure, this has seen the relocation of people into areas populated by elephants, leopards and other vulnerable species and has resulted in significant habitat loss.

This exacerbates conflict between humans and the animal populations, which has led to greater levels of deaths for both humans and animals. 2016 saw one of the highest numbers of deaths from human elephant conflict, with 279 elephant deaths and 88 human deaths. (Colombo Gazette)