The High Commission of Canada to Sri Lanka and Maldives was pleased to mark ‘International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action’ on 4 April with an event held at Canada House which brought together key government officials, members of the international, diplomatic and donor communities, demining organizations and civil society. The Honourable Minister Swaminathan, Minister for Prison Reform, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs attended as Chief Guest.
The High Commissioner of Canada, Her Excellency Shelley Whiting, in hosting the event sought to recognize the considerable gains made in mine action and mine clearance in Sri Lanka since the end of the conflict in 2009 and bring attention to the importance of continued, collective efforts in support of a mine-impact free Sri Lanka by 2020.
“The critical importance of demining work in Sri Lanka is obvious. Clearance of landmines is a necessary prerequisite to long-term peace and security for all Sri Lankans and a key component of Sri Lanka’s broader plans for reconciliation and resettlement. Demining also supports economic recovery and livelihoods, and poverty reduction in the immediate and long term”.
Canada has been a significant donor to Sri Lanka’s demining efforts – contributing more than CDN 3 million since 2009 to MAG and HaloTrust’s demining efforts, which are undertaken in close collaboration with the UN, National Mine Action Centre (NMAC) and the Government of Sri Lanka.
Canada has long been a leader in mine action. Canada was at the forefront of negotiations which lead to the establishment of the Mine Ban Treaty – commonly known as the Ottawa Convention which entered into force 17 years ago last month. Canada has contributed more than $400 million to mine action globally since the convention was adopted. Over the past month, Canada has reaffirmed its continued commitment to both the universalization of the Mine Ban Treaty and to strengthened international engagement for peace, security, sustainable development, respect for diversity, human rights, peaceful pluralism and justice for all, as typified in the announcement of a Canadian bid for a 2021 seat on the UN Security Council.
High Commissioner Whiting in addressing the gathering noted that “Canada welcomed Sri Lanka’s announcement of progress with respect to accession to the Ottawa Convention and looks forward to continued engagement with Sri Lanka in the months and years to come, as we strive together to create a world and a Sri Lanka free of anti-personnel mines.”
Background: The International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action calls for continued efforts by States to foster the establishment and development of national mine-action capacities in countries, where mines and explosive remnants of war constitute a serious threat to the safety, or an impediment to social and economic development.
The 2016 theme of the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action is “Mine action is humanitarian action” recognizing the importance of mine action in saving lives, and addressing the human toll of these indiscriminate weapons. Mine action ensures that landmines and explosive hazards in war-torn areas are found and destroyed, making possible the delivery of humanitarian assistance. (Media Release)