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Church urges faster de-mining efforts

Delay in clearing battlefields 'is putting civilians at risk', more must be done

Church urges faster de-mining efforts
Little Theresa at the Marian shrine in Madhu village says land mine clearing vehicle rescued her reporter, Mannar
Sri Lanka

April 8, 2011

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The slow pace of land mine clearance is putting lives at risk and the government needs to do more to render former battlefield safe again, Churchmen and lawmakers say. Two years after the end of the civil war, and one year after the government resettled thousands of displaced civilians, delays in clearing mines is preventing people in resettlement areas in Mullativu, Kilinochchi and Mannar districts from leading a normal life, critics say. "Though the government has given assurances on solving the problems of resettled Tamils, it still has not done so. The government must ensure better lives for Tamils who have suffered for 30 years due to war," Tamil legislator M.A. Sumanthiran told parliament yesterday. Worried parents have to escort their children wherever they go to stop them wandering into minefields. “There is a serious risk of loss of life or limbs from these mines and other ordnance that remain in these areas,” said Father Anthony Victor Sosai, head of Caritas in Mannar diocese. “The slightest deviation from a path could easily result in a fatal accident,” the priest added. Although state officials, along with NGOs are conducting awareness programs to help parents and children take precautionary measures, much more needs to be done – and quickly. Fr. Sosai said the Church is urging government officials to speed up mine clearing by sending more workers. Many people are already forgetting to take precautions. In spite of efforts made in relation to de-mining and mine risk education, Parents and children are paying less attention and are becoming more and more careless, according to Father Arulanandam Johnaly Yavis, President of the Jaffna Diocesan Priests Union. SR13911.1648
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