Making villages landmine-free in Sri Lanka
After the end of the Sri Lanka civil war in 2009, landmine casualties rose significantly as people displaced during the conflict began to return home.
In response, the HALO Trust led a massive landmine clearance programme, which has seen over 100,000 landmines destroyed, allowing 190,000 people to return home safely.
HALO arrived at a plan to help tackle the mines problem in Sri Lanka by drawing on its 24 years of experience of mine clearance across the world, often post-conflict.
The charity’s team of five experienced expatriates hired and trained over 1,000 local staff, including 700 recent returnees and 250 women, to conduct mine clearance in their own communities.
Investing in local leadership keeps the mine-affected communities integral to the process and provides employment in areas where there are few opportunities. Some 25 per cent of HALO’s staff are female, many of whom have become heads of households after losing their husbands during the war.
By the end of 2011, HALO had cleared just over two million square metres of minefield, more in one year than had been cleared between 2002 and 2009.
Its work has allowed once-abandoned villages to thrive again. In the village of Skandapuram, Edward Lemon Kajenthiran, who was forced to abandon his shop in 2008, has been able to open a new salon after all landmines were cleared.
More than four million square metres of mined land have been painstakingly cleared by HALO deminers over the past nine years, including land now used for school playgrounds, medical facilities, paddy fields, roads, houses and gardens, temples and fishing jetties.
Desk officer, Horn of Africa & Sri Lanka
The HALO Trust
Dumfries DG3 5BF
Tel: 01843 311 100
OSCR reg no: SCO37870 / Charity no: 1001813