The U.S. Navy recently concluded a two-week training session in Trincomalee to equip and support Sri Lanka’s underwater demining efforts.
Working with side-scan sonars and robots donated by the U.S. Navy, the Sri Lankan Navy enhanced its ability to search, locate, and provide information on any unknown items underwater, including unexploded ordnance from the conflict in Trincomalee Harbor.
“The United States is committed to aiding demining efforts across Sri Lanka, whether on land or at sea,” said U.S. Ambassador Atul Keshap. “By removing these remnants of war, we are helping ensure Sri Lankans can live and work more safely. This effort also increases the ability for the port of Trincomalee to expand its commercial operations.”
This recent exercise is part of continuing U.S. assistance for demining efforts across the country. From 1995 to 2014 the U.S. has invested more than $46 million to fund mine clearance, survey projects, mine risk education, and national capacity building.
In his October 8 meeting with the Honorable D.M. Swaminathan, Minister of Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs, Ambassador Keshap announced an additional $1.745 million in support of demining activities in Sri Lanka.
U.S. assistance to Sri Lanka’s demining efforts have also included the transfer of safety and field equipment, surveys on mine contamination for detection and land release, and mine-clearing operations. The United States is also leading efforts to boost Sri Lanka’s own demining capacity through training for mine disposal units in the Sri Lankan military, including the Mine Detection Dog and underwater demining programs.
Sri Lanka’s northern Puthukudiyruppu District was one of the worst hit areas during Sri Lanka decades-long civil war.
When the U.S. State Department helped the Mines Advisory Group, or MAG, a non-governmental de-mining assistance organization, become the first humanitarian demining organization to operate in the area in 2010, they encountered destroyed buildings and abandoned military camps littered with minefields and unexploded ordnance. After four years of work more than nine thousand families were able to return home.
The United States is proud to work with Sri Lanka and its non-governmental partners to free the people of Sri Lanka from the deadly threat of landmines.