Following its strategic objective to contribute to the safe return and resettlement of IDPs, SDC supports the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) to demine and clear land for resettlement and to clear common wells of explosives and hazardous materials. Since April 2011, approximately 19,000 IDPs have returned and resettled in land released as safe by FSD. Furthermore 437 wells have been cleared of hazardous material, providing safe drinking water for more than 5,000 IDP families.
Returnees now have access to safe, productive and residential land. The release of valuable agricultural land has also resulted in improved livelihood opportunities for returnees. The FSD media team in Sri Lanka has produced a documentary on well clearance activities funded by SDC.
In addition to clearing land and wells, FSD is also involved in various other mine related interventions, especially to build enhanced awareness of mines and Unexpolored ordnances, among returnees. FSD’s Community Liaison Staff play an important role in facilitating these activities. These Community Liaison activities have ensured that the number of mine and UXO accidents has been statistically negligible in FSD areas of operations, despite the high number of returnees living close to dangerous areas. FSD has also distributed 225 water pots among 210 returned families in Mullaitivu and Vavuniya.
With several teams working on the ground in the Mannar, Vavuniya and Mullativu Districts, the return process is ongoing and more IDPs will continue to benefit from FSD released land and cleared wells. The overall goal of the SDC strategy is ‘to contribute to the safe resettlement of IDPs in their Mine/ERW cleared villages and land according to plans made in close coordination with the government authorities and relief agencies’. SDC continues to support FSD in their invaluable service to resettle the returnee population.