"The High Commission of Canada to Sri Lanka and Maldives is pleased to mark International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action on 4 April with the announcement of continued Canadian support to Sri Lanka's efforts to create a mine-free environment following the conclusion of the war in 2009," the High Commission said in a release.
The Government of Canada will provide $850 000 in support of work by the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) to remove landmines in the Mannar District in Sri Lanka, facilitating the release of over 1,000 hectares of highly productive farm land for the resettling over 500 families.
The High Commissioner of Canada, Shelley Whiting said the funding will play a role in keeping Sri Lankans living in mine-affected areas safe while it builds on the significant work already undertaken in mine clearing in the country.
"The devastating impact of landmines on civilians is without question. It is my hope that the considerable work undertaken by the Government of Sri Lanka, with the support of partners such as Canada, will save lives, facilitate returns and lead to eventual ratification of relevant international treaties aimed at bringing an end to the use of these indiscriminate weapons," she said.
The International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action calls for continued efforts by States to foster the establishment and development of national mine-action capacities in countries, where mines and explosive remnants of war constitute a serious threat to the safety, or an impediment to social and economic development.
The 2015 theme of the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action 'More than Mines' takes into account the various types of explosive threats faced by countries and brings attention to the importance of eliminating the different types of explosive hazards. In keeping with this theme, the Government of Canada announced, on March 17th, Canada's ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and $2.4 million in support of demining efforts, including demining activities in Sri Lanka. With this announcement 'Canada is taking action to rid the world of cluster munitions because of the devastating impact they have on civilians' stated Rob Nicholson, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs.
This new funding builds on previous significant contributions from Canada to demining efforts in Sri Lanka through support to international mine clearing organizations such as MAG and HALO Trust, whose operations have resulted in removing a large variety of explosive devices from former conflict areas. This has in turn helped to resettle thousands of displaced people in their original places of abode.