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Australia increases assistance to Sri Lanka to fight landmine menace.



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The Hon Teresa Gambaro MP Federal Member for Petrie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs

AA 06 28 25 May 2006

Australia increases assistance to Sri Lanka to fight landmine menace

The Australian Government will commit more than $1.6 million to aid communities in heavily mine-affected provinces of northern and eastern Sri Lanka.

Australia’s Special Representative on Mine Action and Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Teresa Gambaro, said that she was pleased to announce the mine action assistance for Sri Lanka during Landmine Action Week.

The assistance is part of Australia’s new five-year Mine Action Strategy, which aims to reduce suffering and the socio-economic impact of landmines. The Strategy is linked to a $75 million five-year pledge to mine action made in July last year by Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, and builds on a $100 million commitment delivered over the past 10 years.

Australia is providing $1.4 million to the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action for its Future Operations Project, which aims to build the ability of mine-affected communities to clear mines in the districts of Mannar and Vavuniya.

‘As part of the Future Operations Project, Australian funding is directly supporting three manual clearance teams and a technical survey team to clear an estimated 110,000 square metres of mine contaminated land, and destroy approximately 3,000 anti-personnel landmines and 1,500 unexploded ordnance,’ said Ms Gambaro.

Ms Gambaro said the program would also enable the resettlement of families displaced by conflict.

‘Australia is also providing $250,000 in funding to support a United Nations Mine Action project in Sri Lanka, which aims to reduce the threat of landmines and other explosive remnants of war, and enable reconstruction so that refugees and internally displaced people can return to their homes.

‘This support will also enhance the peace process in Sri Lanka by improving local and national capabilities to implement and manage mine action activities such as mine clearance, mine risk education, physical rehabilitation support to landmine survivors and advocacy against the renewed use of landmines,’ Ms Gambaro said.

May 20 to 26 is Landmine Action Week which aims to raise awareness of landmine issues and increase support for the elimination of landmines.

The Australian Government’s Mine Action Strategy is available at www.ausaid.gov.au.

Media contacts: Damien Cocks (Parliamentary Secretary’s Office): 0438 171 330 AusAID (Public Affairs): 0417 680 590

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