The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) said nearly all areas in the former war-affected region have been cleared of landmines. Only 82 square kilometers are remaining to be demined.
“Cleared lands are ready for resettlement,” Army Spokesman Brig. Ruwan Wanigasooriya said at a press conference. “(The) Army and nine local and international non-governmental organizations are engage in the demining process. Most of these lands that had been cleared are the homelands of the internally displaced and farming lands. The rest, yet to be cleared, are mainly forest areas.”
Brig. Wanigasuriya said out of an area of 2,064 square kilometers identified as hazardous, the SLA with assistance from local and international agencies have cleared 1,982 sq. km. The Army and demining groups have removed some 100,000 anti-personnel mines, anti-tank mines and numerous other forms of improvised explosive devices during this process.
While pointing out that in some countries, mines were still causing casualties even two or three decades after a war has ended, Brig. Wanigasooriya said the demining process in Sri Lanka was carried out following international standards set out by the United Nations. According to the Brigadier, civilians are permitted to resettle the lands only after the areas have been searched and given approval by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
In June 2009, a month after the defeat of LTTE terrorism, the Sri Lankan Government, with the support of donor countries such as Australia, Japan, China, India, the United States and other entities such as the European Union, UNDP, UNICEF, and other national and international mine action groups implemented a comprehensive and rapid demining program to clear 2,064 sq. km. of land, which had been heavily mined during the 30-year war.