Sri Lanka, LTTE urged to sign anti-landmine treaties
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 14 July 2004, 11:23 GMT]
Landmine Ban Advocay Forum, a group of Humanitarian Organizations, including the UNDP and UNICEF, called on the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers to sign treaties
Banning Anti-Personnel Landmines in Colombo Wednesday.
The advocacy forum issued a statement on the need to ban land mines.
Full text of the forum's media release follows:
''The Landmine Ban Advocacy Forum today called on the
Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to
sign two international instruments banning the use and stockpiling of
The Landmine Ban Advocacy Forum, which consists of international donors,
humanitarian aid agencies, NGOs, UNDP and UNICEF, is urging the two parties
to take a firm stand against the use of these indiscriminate weapons of war.
Unlike other weapons, landmines are triggered by the victim and do not
distinguish between children and farmers during peacetime or combatants
during conflict. This is why 143 countries have banned their use and
destroyed their stockpiles.
The Forum is calling on the Government to sign the Convention on the
Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production, and Transfer of
Anti-Personnel Mines and On Their Destruction, more commonly known as the
Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty or Ottawa Convention, and the LTTE to sign
the Geneva Call Deed of Commitment.
The Forum says that signing the Ottawa
Convention and the Geneva Call Deed of Commitment, and sticking to their
provisions, ensures that the threat from anti-personnel mines will not
increase in Sri Lanka.
Landmines have proven to be ineffective in military operations. More
civilians are maimed, killed or negatively affected by mines than any
military targets. Landmines block the resumption of normal activity as well
as reconstruction and resettlement of those displaced by conflicts. In Sri
Lanka, at least 153 civilians have lost their lives and 889 have been
injured by landmines since 1995. These figures do not include government
forces and LTTE cadre affected by mines.
Since the mine action programme commenced in 2002, mine action activity has
expanded greatly. Various donors, and international and local organisations
have contributed funds and expertise. Thousands of acres of land in the
North and East however still remain contaminated by mines. This means that
hundreds of thousands of people continue to be affected by mines and
economic activity is put on hold for many families.
Neither side has signed the Ottawa Convention or the Geneva Call Deed of
Commitment. The Government of Sri Lanka declared that it is not a matter of
if it would sign the Ottawa Convention, but when this would take place.
According to Geneva Call, its recent engagement with the LTTE has been
positive as well.
However, this is not enough to ensure continued support for mine clearance
activities and neither is it consolation for those living in contaminated
areas. Donors need firm commitments, by way of signing these agreements.
Donors have already said that the present situation makes it difficult to
consider continued engagement, resulting in some countries withdrawing
funding for de-mining activities in Sri Lanka.
Based on experiences in other countries, there is no doubt that acceding to
the two treaties would open up greater access to financial resources for
humanitarian mine clearance in Sri Lanka, resulting in more resettlement and
reconstruction activity which ultimately benefits the people of Sri Lanka.''