The U.S. Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) Martin Kelly visited a Mines Advisory Group (MAG) demining site to observe the painstaking measures undertaken to clear improvised explosive devices in the area and spoke with a team of female deminers, a statement from the embassy said. The project, is a part of over one billion Sri Lankan Rupees (US$5.5 million) The United States is providing this fiscal year for clearance activities, to promote the safety and security of local residents.
“Clearing these deadly devices takes skill, patience, and bravery,” said DCM Kelly. “The women deminers defy stereotypes of appropriate gender roles while at the same time performing a courageous service in the rebuilding of their communities. We’re grateful for their contributions to helping Sri Lanka become mine-free.” DCM Kelly also met with representatives of local and international clearance partners, including the Delvon Association for Social Harmony (DASH), Skavita Humanitarian Assistance and Relief Project (SHARP), HALO Trust, and MAG, who carry out demining operations with the support of U.S. funding. He also had a positive and productive meeting with the National Mine Action Centre at the Regional Mine Action Office in Kilinochchi.
Since 1995, the United States has been the largest donor to humanitarian demining in Sri Lanka, providing over $78 million for operations and equipment. U.S. support has helped advance clearance efforts in the nine districts affected by landmine contamination and helped efforts that enabled Batticaloa District to be declared mine-impact free in 2017. U.S. funding has also enabled conducting of mine detection training for the Sri Lankan Army and has also provided demining equipment.