Fleeing the fighting, the Ginanasekaram family were forced to abandon their home in the final years of Sri Lanka's Civil War—not knowing if they would ever return.
In the final years of Sri Lanka’s Civil War—as the fighting spread through towns and villages—over 300,000 families were forced to leave their homes.
Karuppaijah Ginanasekaram was heavily pregnant with her second child when the village of Skandapuram became an open battleground. Fearing for their lives Karuppaijah, her husband Kamalajini and young daughter abandoned their home and grocery store, joining the thousands of other Sri Lankans displaced during the war.
Even when the fighting ended in 2009, the Ginanasekarams and many others in northern Sri Lanka could not return to their villages. Thousands of landmines had been laid by the retreating troops, including in the very centre of Skandapuram. Destitute, these families were living in crowded camps, creating an urgent need to resettle them safely.
Survey is the first step towards resettlement, accurately identifying the areas where landmines and explosives lie—so we can prioritise resources for clearance and confirm safe land, allowing communities to return. Following survey work in Kilinochchi district, HALO cleared over 230,000 square metres around Skandapuram village and by 2011 had removed 1,141 mines. Resettlement began and the Ginanasekarams made the joyful return home.
Within a year, the once deserted village was flourishing, over 2,000 people had moved back, the market was bustling with life and the health centre, where six landmines had been discovered, had reopened its doors. Karuppaijah and Kamalajini were able to realise their dream of re-opening a small general store to support their growing family.
Over the past 30 years, HALO has worked in countries from Afghanistan to Syria, clearing landmines and explosives—making land safe so that refugees can come home. In Sri Lanka alone, over 110,000 people have been able to return to areas declared safe by HALO. However, even today there are still families waiting, unable to go back to villages and towns contaminated by the explosive debris of war. With your support, we can help these people make the journey home and rebuild their lives as soon as possible.
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