The Government of Japan has decided to extend a grant assistance of nearly US$ 1.25 million (Rs. 1.94 billion) to expedite the Sri Lankan government’s humanitarian demining efforts in the war-battered North with the aim of transforming Sri Lanka into a land mine free country.
The grant assistance from Japan aims to accelerate the Sri Lankan government’s program to be free of land mines by 2020 and the relevant agreement for the grant assistance was signed on Tuesday at the Japanese Embassy in Colombo.
The Government of Japan will provide a total sum of US$1,249,997 as grant aid to the two non-governmental organizations involved in the mine clearing operations SKAVITA Humanitarian Assistance and Relief Project (SHARP) and Mines Advisory Group (MAG) to implement the mine clearing operations.
The Grant Contract was signed between Ambassador of Japan Kenichi Suganuma, and Lt Col (Retd) V.S.M. Sarath Jayawardhene, Programme Manager of SHARP and Technical Operations Manager of MAG Rovinan Fernandez.The project will provide US$624,997 for MAG and US$625,000 to SHARP organization.
The project will further strengthen the de-mining program that has been implemented by the Sri Lankan government to allow internally displaced persons to resettle and begin their livelihood programs. Japan has been a major donor supporting mine clearance in Sri Lanka to accelerate the return and resettlement of Internal Displaced Persons (IDPs) and to facilitate recommencement of agriculture and other livelihood activities of returnees. Since 2003, the Government of Japan has provided a sum of US$33 million for demining activities in the North and the East under its Grant Assistance schemes.
Expressing his views, Japanese ambassador to Sri Lanka Kenichi Suganuma pointed out that this project will enable the establishment of mine free areas in the country to enable internally displaced persons to resettle and Japan hopes to contribute to the efforts of the Sri Lanka Government’s resettlement program. In addition, the assistance will be provided to Sri Lanka to strengthen the program undertaken by the Government to ensure that the North is safe from land mines, Ambassador Suganuma said adding that another 25 square kilometers of land is remaining to be cleared.
Commenting on the provision of this grant, SHARP’s Program Manager Lt Col (Retd) V.S.M. Sarath Jayawardene said, “For the third successive year, the Japanese Embassy in Sri Lanka has come forward to provide funds through the GGP for SHARP to carry out demining clearance work in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka.Appreciating the third Japanese grant SHARP Program Manager said the organization hopes to continue their services efficiently and fruitfully to the maximum.
Meanwhile, Director of Technical Operations of the Mines Advisory Group appreciated the assistance from Japan, which supports demining activities throughout the world including Sri Lanka and during the last four years with Japan’s partnership the group was able to remove over 10,000 landmines.He pointed out that around 44,000 mines have been removed 36 square kilometers of land in Sri Lanka since 2009.