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Sri Lanka to be completely cleared from landmines by 2020

(Xinhua)

08:10, April 11, 2012

COLOMBO, April 10 (Xinhua) -- The mine contaminated areas of former war ravaged Sri Lanka will totally be cleared only by 2020, an official said on Tuesday.

Marking the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance to Mine Action, Monty Ranatunga, director of the National Mine Action Center, said Sri Lanka has cleared 1936 square kilometers from mines and only 124 square kilometers remaining to be cleared.

Since 2002, while the war was continuing, Ranatunga said demining and resettlement process in Sri Lanka had moved on faster than expected.

"There were more than 300,000 internally displaced persons ( IDPs) due to three decades civil war in the country and all except 6569 had been resettled mainly in demined areas," he said.

From 2002 to March 2012, nine de-mining organizations including international and local non-government organizations were involved in demining in northern and eastern parts of the country where some of the areas were heavily mined by both government forces and Tamil Tiger rebels who fought for a separate homeland until 2009.

Up to March 2012, the nine organizations have unearthed 778,412 landmines.

Ranatunga added that awareness campaign on landmines has been successful in Sri Lanka as only 17 incidents with 24 civilian victims from landmines were recorded in 2011.

In 2010 there were 27 incidents with 47 victims due to landmines. "This is much lesser compared to UN records of at least 50 incidents per year in other parts of the world," he said.

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