Mine clearing delayed

[TamilNet, Thursday, 09 July 1998, 23:59 GMT]
A seminar on educating the public on deactivating buried pressure mines was held in Jaffna on Monday, under the auspices of the Department of Community Medicine, University of Jaffna, and UNICEF, said sources in Jaffna.

Speaking to journalists later, Dr. N. Sivarajah said that between 80 and 100 victims of pressure mines were reported every month in Jaffna.

He said that the Ministry of Defence was dragging its feet over bringing sniffer dogs from Colombo to sniff out buried mines, which were part of the programme the UNDP had devised for the detection and deactivation of buried mines. Therefore the UNDP programme is now limited to giving training to personnel and not to the exercise of deactivating mines.

Dr. Sivarajah also said that all three military organisations - the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) and the Indian Peace Keeping Forces (IPKF), which were involved in large scale mining in Jaffna, had not made maps indicating the areas that had been mined.

As a result de-mining was both difficult and dangerous. Bureaucratic delays in bringing sniffer dogs to undertake their jobs only delayed the difficult and dangerous task, he said.

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