'More aid if Colombo bans landmines’ - UN

[TamilNet, Thursday, 04 December 2003, 19:14 GMT]
Sri Lanka would get more funds for clearing mines in the northeast if it accedes to the Ottawa Convention banning the use of landmines said Mr. Ted Chaiban, the head of the UNICEF in Sri Lanka, in a brief presentation on behalf of the UN at the launch of ‘Mine Action Media Campaign’ at the Prime Minister’s office in Colombo Thursday. Sri Lanka is one of the 44 countries that have not signed the Ottawa Convention.

Mr. Weerakoon addressing the launch, Mr. Chaiban -left


The Mine Action Media Campaign, initiated by the ‘National Steering Committee for Mine Action’ (NSCMA) under the Sri Lankan Prime Minister’s office, was produced by Young Asia Television (YA TV) with assistance from the UNICEF and the UNDP.

Mr. Bradman Weerakoon, Secretary to the Prime Minister and Chairman of the NSCMA, said that the Government of Sri Lanka cannot make a declaration totally disavowing the use of landmines as long as the Liberation Tigers do not do something to reciprocate--make an important statement or gesture saying that they would give up using landmines compeletely.

He said that the LTTE may have problems as a non-state party in ratifying the Ottawa Convention, which has been signed only by states. If this is the case, the Tigers can sign the ‘Geneva Call’, Mr. Weerakoon observed.

The strategic use of mines might become an obsolete military concept in the future; therefore if the military can be convinced that there are alternatives to landmines then it would be possible for the army to give up using them, he said.

“We are working with old equipment that is not up to international standards. We do not get adequate funds to improve and expand our work”, a representative of the Sri Lanka army at the seminar said, responding to a question from the media as to why the SLA is refusing to clear mine fields on the borders of villages in Jaffna where people are resettling now.

The mine action programme is being implemented with a target of achieving “a mine free Sri Lanka by the end of 2006.

The National Steering Committee on Mine Action, UNDP, UNICEF in association with YA TV have produced series of 13 short documentaries (five minutes) and six public service announcements (30 seconds each) that aim to explain the risks and different aspects of humanitarian mine action activities.

 

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