SLA balks at demarcating new mine fields for demining
[TamilNet, Sunday, 09 April 2006, 15:04 GMT]
De-mining activities in Jaffna face danger of being drawn to a close due to the reluctance shown by the Sri Lanka Security forces to identify and demarcate new mine infested areas for the Non-Governmental Organizations including British HALO Trust and Danish Demining Group (DDG) to continue demining, civil society sources in Jaffna said Sunday.
A Senior official at the District Demining Co-ordinating Directorate functioning at the Jaffna Secretariat said that most areas in the Peninsula have nearly been cleared of land mines, decision was made to start clearing mine fields that lay closer to the forward defence lines along the High Security Zones.
Although, Sri Lanka Army (SLA) had earlier agreed to allow demining in several of these areas, SLA have reneged on the agreement.
Official added that although most of the mine fields are located more than 200 meters away from the FDLs, the Security Forces fear that clearing these areas will create additional pressure to resettle civilians.
While the SLA officials have refused to provide land-mine maps, sources close to the demining groups indicate that the Halo Trust and DDG are planning to reduce staff anticipating slow down in the demining operations.
Sources in Jaffna also said that recently Sri Lanka military officials stationed in Palaly Military base have allegedly demanded a demining group to handover vehicle-mines removed from an area outside the HSZ. The refusal by the Group to hand back the recovered mines, has also contributed to the de-mining controversy in Jaffna, sources speculated.