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.

Land mine treatyFull 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 anti-personnel landmines.

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.

Land mine treaty
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.''

 

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