Clearing the minefields of Northern Sri Lanka: A task for survivors
By Groundviews - Tue Apr 03, 11:59 pm
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Nine years after the end of the war, Sri Lanka is still working to address residual traces of conflict that linger in varying forms across the island, and concentrated in the Northern and Eastern provinces.
These range from the intangible, in terms of persistent human rights issues that have gone unaddressed by successive governments, to the tangible effects of widespread land occupation and, as this piece will explore, landmines and unexploded ordinance (UXO) still embedded in the earth.
What takes a few minutes to bury, takes far longer to defuse.
The work to clear these areas for those returning home is a slow but steady process. Eight agencies – both local and international – and the Sri Lanka Army continue to engage in demining, mainly in the Northern province. While clearance does take place in the Eastern province as well, the concentration of mines is relatively low, and the entire Batticaloa district was declared mine-impact free in 2017. This does not necessarily mean that every single mine has been removed, but that most of them have been cleared, to a level known as residual risk, i….