196,088 refugees remain in Sri Lanka Camps, de-mining still an issue

Internally Displaced Persons at the Manik Farm Camp. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe.

According to the Hindustan Times, Sri Lanka's Human Rights Minister, Mahinda Samarasingha, has confirmed that only 196,088 displaced Tamil civilians still remain in camps.

Mahinda Samarasingha informed HT that 14 mine-clearing machines were working to speed the process up, and that 10 more machines were to be imported shortly.

However, the Hindustan Times learns that a vast area, over 6000 sq KM, is still heavily mined with up to a million mines and UXOs/UXBs.

Hindustan Times
Diplomatic sources told HT that landmines still remain scattered over an area of 6,500 sq km. Between half-a-million to one million mines and ‘unexploded ordinance’ remain there.

The 2-lakh strong Sri Lanka army has deployed only 383 soldiers in demining; another 200 are being trained. In contrast, six international groups — including two Indian groups Sarvatra and Horizons — have about 1,500-2,000 trained former armed forces personnel on the ground doing demining.

The two Indian organisations have three groups each with 200 personnel. But it’s the government that decides the areas that are to be de-mined.

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