The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington D.C. and the Mine Advisory Group ( MAG ) jointly hosted a gathering of US officials, demining agency representatives and prospective partners to a breakfast briefing at the Sri Lanka Residence on 13th March 2019 on the theme “ Mine Free Sri Lanka 2020 “
The breakfast briefing was organized as part of a joint initiative by the Sri Lankan Embassy and MAG, which is at the forefront in mine clearance activities in the Northern and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka since 2002, to reach out to the members of the Congress and the Senate, potential partners and well wishers seeking their support for Sri Lanka’s vision to usher in a mine free Sri Lanka by 2020.
Delivering opening remarks, Chargé d'Affaires , Sarath Dissanayake welcomed the guests and appreciated their presence. Echoing the sentiments expressed by Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General promoting universalization of the Ottawa Convention, Prince Mired Bin Ra’ad Bin Zeid Al - Hussein, at a panel discussion on “ Mine Free Sri Lanka 2020 “ held in Geneva on 30th November 2018 in which he commended Sri Lankan government and partners for the extra ordinary work being done to make Sri Lanka mine free by 2020, Charge d’ Affaires said Sri Lanka is a unique story and model for other countries. He expressed Sri Lanka’s sincere appreciation and gratitude to the US Government, funding partners and agencies such as MAG, HALO and MLI etc for the extremely delicate tasks being performed on the minefields at great risk to themselves. He expressed optimism that with such committed and dedicated donors from US and elsewhere, and funding to be continued by US and others, Sri Lanka’s quest to reach mine free status by 2020 is a realizable hope. Thereafter, Minister/Defence, Rear Admiral Wettewa, made a comprehensive presentation in regard to mine clearance, resettlement, awareness and education, victims assistance programs implemented since its inception in 2002 as well as prospects and challenges. Emphasizing Sri Lanka’s vision and mission to rid the country of mines once and for all, he requested those present in the audience to continue supporting Sri Lanka in order to realize its cherished goal. Being a battle - hardened officer himself, Rear Admiral drew parallels and likened to the humanitarian work performed by armed forces in post conflict phase of rehabilitation, reconstruction and resettlement to that of mine detection, demining and highly dedicated work performed by agencies including those from MAG, HALO etc on the mine fields in Sri Lanka.
MAG America Executive Director, Jamie Franklin briefed the gathering on the MAG’s contribution to demining operations overseas and its success story in Sri Lanka. Reiterating MAG’s continued commitment to Sri Lanka, the Executive Director assured its fullest support to realizing Sri Lanka’s vision. The former Country Director, MAG Sri Lanka, Alistair Moir, who spoke next, made a structured presentation on the progress of demining activities in Sri Lanka and work remains to be done. Speaking on the Sri Lanka’s vision, former Director commended the support and cooperation extended by the government, armed forces, lending partners, civil society and civilians in carrying out mine related activities diligently and expeditiously. He said Sri Lanka’s progress in demining is unique and that a mine free Sri Lanka has the potential to offer tangible opportunities and benefits to Sri Lanka and its peoples.
The briefing was followed by Q & A session and breakfast.
Embassy of Sri Lanka
14 March 2019