2015 To Walk the Earth in Safety: South and Central Asia--Clearing the Way for a Safe Return

Bureau of Political-Military Affairs

Date: 2015 Description: A deminer begins to excavate a suspected landmine in Kilinochchi District, Sri Lanka.  © Photo courtesy of HALO.

Sri Lanka’s northern Puthukudiyiruppu District was one of the worst hit areas during the civil war years. When PM/WRA helped MAG become the first humanitarian demining organization to operate in the area in 2010, they encountered destroyed buildings and abandoned military camps littered with minefields and scattered unexploded ordnance. After four years of work, approximately 9,046 families in Puthukudiyiruppu have been able to return home.

MAG’s community liaison team began recovery operations by surveying the entire district to identify the most dangerous areas and prevent injuries to displaced families returning home and to government and nongovernmental organization workers. Then, in response to a Sri Lankan government request, MAG commenced clearance operations to find and safely dispose of landmines and unexploded ordnance in July 2010, completing their effort in June 2014.

Mr. Jenitha Ahilan, whose family was displaced in early 2009 and returned three years later, was clearing the land for building, and discovered a half-buried mine, so work was halted. “I reported it to MAG and they responded immediately, clearing the whole area so that we could continue building [our home],” Jenitha said. “Now my children play freely without fear of landmines.”