UK offers £12 million to remove land mines in the North

British Minister for the UN and Commonwealth Baroness Anelay visited Jaffna today and confirmed £1.2 million of UK funding to remove land mines in the north of Sri Lanka over the next 3 years.This forms part of the £6.6 million in funding for Sri Lanka announced at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Malta last year. “Demining is essential to ensure the safety of those returning to their homes and land following the conflict. It is important for displaced people to return as soon as possible in order to rebuild their lives. During my meetings with women’s groups and female heads of households in the North, I heard about the difficulties they faced in finding suitable employment and providing for their families,” she said.During her visit to Sri Lanka the Minister is to reiterate the UK’s commitment to supporting Sri Lanka in strengthening democracy and human rights, including tackling gender based and sexual violence, delivering reconciliation and combating corruption. As the British Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, the Minister will also raise awareness of the need to tackle the stigmatisation of sexual violence and will meet with civil society organisations working on preventing sexual violence.The British High Commission in Colombo said Baroness Anelay will highlight the importance of female participation in the reconciliation process and the need for comprehensive strategies for tackling sexual and gender-based violence. (Colombo Gazette) Whilst in Jaffna, Baroness Anelay visited a HALO Trust demining site and met former IDPs who had recently returned to their land. The UK will fund British demining charity The HALO Trust to remove mines in order to facilitate the return of internally displaced people (IDPs). Through this work The HALO Trust aims to improve the lives of up to 40,000 people in the North.