Sri Lanka to receive NOK 60 million from Norway for demining
The Norwegian government plans to contribute NOK 60 million over a period of three years to help Sri Lanka in its demining efforts, which is in line with Norway’s new humanitarian strategy. This announcement was made at a meeting with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in Colombo on 5 March.
Vast quantities of landmines were used during the Sri Lankan civil war and while most have been removed over the years, those that remain pose a serious threat to the economically vulnerable people of the country. The issue has also prevented the safe return of internally displaced people (IDPs), and affected the lives and livelihoods of many.
Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide stated that “Sri Lanka has been heavily contaminated by landmines but the country is now approaching its goal of becoming mine free. This year, Norway holds the presidency of the mine ban treaty and intends to help Sri Lanka achieve this important goal.”
She added: “Mine clearance efforts are an important part of the reconciliation process and mean that families who were forced to leave their homes during the war can return home safe.”
The funding will be channelled through two mine clearing organisations in Sri Lanka – the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) and The HALO Trust.
MAG is an NGO that finds, removes and destroys landmines, cluster munitions and unexploded bombs, and helps people affected by landmines, unexploded ordnance, and small arms and light weapons. The HALO Trust is the largest international mine action operator in the country that also focusses on landmine clearance, weapons and ammunition management, explosive ordnance disposal and mine risk education.