Vicious killer

By Vidya ABHAYAGUNAWARDENA

, by Frontline

The landmine is a morally outlawed weapon, and it is time now for Sri Lanka to accede to the Mine Ban Treaty.

SRI LANKA’S protracted internal conflict, which lasted for three decades, ended in May 2009, but landmines and other explosive remnants of war (ERW) continue to kill or injure both people and animals. The country is now struggling to unearth an estimated 1.3 million landmines.

Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor (LCMM), “a programme providing research and monitoring for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC)”, reported a total of 21,993 landmine-related casualties in Sri Lanka since the 1980s, including 1,419 civilian returnees. From 1999 to the end of 2009 the casualty figure was 1,310, including 123 killed, 453 injured and 734 unknown.

“The National Strategy for Mine Action in Sri Lanka 2010”, a strategy paper drafted by the Sri Lanka National Mine Action Centre (SLNMAC) for the Ministry of Economic Development (MED), mentions that the current level of de-mining will have to be maintained for approximately 10 years in order to clear all the land in the North and the East and achieve a mine-free Sri Lanka. This will need enhanced human, financial and material resources. According to the Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA), the United Nations-approved standard for information systems relating to de-mining, as of March 31, 2011, about 494 square kilometres remain to be cleared.

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