DFID funding for Sri Lanka

The Department for International Development  has chosen The HALO Trust and partner agencies to assist with the demining and support development work in war torn northern Sri Lanka.

UKAid will enable HALO to expand its demining operations to over 1,000 Sri Lankan staff working to clear minefields and support follow on development in the three worst mine and ERW affected provinces of Jaffna, Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu.  

HALO has established partnerships with two international NGOs and two local NGOs.  

Additional demining capacity will be provided by Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) in Mullaitivu.   This broadens the geographical scope of the project and ensures that DFID funding will be used to meet near-term resettlement priorities for IDPs remaining in camps.  For the delivery of risk education and expansion of community liaison activities, HALO will work with the local NGO, Sarvodaya, who will provide two teams to work in the project area.

The development potential of the demined land will be realised through a combination of HALO’s partnerships with development actors ZOA Refugee Care and Sewalanka Foundation and work in direct support of UN, national, provincial and district development projects, as well as the development and education initiatives funded by mine and ERW affected communities themselves.  The project is expected to benefit more than 23,000 people in its first year alone.

Demining work is also expected to help facilitate the release of highly politicized High Security Zones.  This will in turn foster peace-building in the north by allowing the resettlement of longer-term displaced families as well as refugees.  High Security Zones were originally formed by the Sri Lankan Security Forces in the 1990s as buffers to prevent attacks on strategic areas.  These areas saw heavy fighting and some were subsequently mined.  As many as 70,000 people were evicted and not allowed back; that was until recently when the Government of Sri Lanka took steps to facilitate returns.

The Project will enable HALO to deploy 269 Sri Lankan staff for 30 months. Operational staff will be deployed as 20 manual mine clearance teams, 2 mechanical mine clearance teams, 3 combined survey/EOD/community liaison teams and 2 risk education teams.  The Department for International Development will fund this work through a new £3 million contract.  

Minefields and unexploded ordnance remain a threat to human security and significantly reduce the amount of land available for settlement, cultivation and access to fishing (a traditional way of life in northern Sri Lanka).  The expected outputs of the project will therefore include the targeted clearance of 113 hectares of mine-affected land, the comprehensive survey of mine-affected communities and the provision of a rapid response service tackling as many as 300 EOD call-out tasks.  Since establishment in 2002 HALO has cleared 82,363 mines from 273 minefields and 15,545 items of ordnance from amongst communities in northern Sri Lanka.  

31 May 2011