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Cablegate: Fy-2004 Humanitarian Demining Plan For

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

150605Z Aug 03

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 COLOMBO 001430

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SA/INS, PM, PM/HDP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL EAID MOPS PREF KHDP CE LTTE
SUBJECT: FY-2004 Humanitarian Demining Plan for
Sri Lanka

Refs: (A) State 155578

- (B) Colombo 1295, and previous

1. In response to Ref A, Mission's Humanitarian
Demining Plan follows.

Begin text:

--------------------------------
SECTION ONE -- EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
--------------------------------

A. BACKGROUND:

Twenty years of civil war in Sri Lanka have left a
severe mine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) problem in Sri
Lanka. The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) and the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) both utilized mines in
their battle strategies, leaving the country to deal
with the menace of roughly one million landmines,
largely concentrated in the north/east of the country.
Heavy fighting in the north/east, with shifting lines of
control, exacerbated the UXO problem, with thousands of
tons of UXO estimated to be present.

With the onset of the peace process in December 2001,
numerous demining groups are undertaking mine clearance
efforts in Sri Lanka. Adherence to international
standards continues to be a challenge, however. Level
One and general assessments have been done, but a
comprehensive survey has not yet been completed. The
U.S. has provided short-term assistance through two
Quick Reaction Demining Force (QRDF) deployments.
Future projects will concentrate on building indigenous
mine clearance capacity within Sri Lanka.

B. NATURE OF THE THREAT:

The areas effected most severely by the mine threat are
the north and east, where most of the fighting occurred
during the conflict. Mine casualties are estimated to
run as high as 15-20 a month. The latest survey
statistics show that upwards of 400 villages are known
to be affected by mines. Sri Lanka Army maps of its
minefields are adequate for the most part. LTTE maps of
minefields, when they exist, however, are of low
quality. The conflict displaced approximately 800,000
people in the north/east, and as these Internally
Displaced Persons (IDPs) attempt to return to their
places of origin, the landmine situation exacerbates
what is already a difficult situation. (Note: Over
300,000 IDPs have already returned to their places of
origin. Mine and UXO casualties are high among
returnees.)

The mines involved are mainly a mixture of Pakistani,
Chinese, Italian, and local manufacture. UXO follows
the same pattern. UXO is most commonly found near
buildings, schools, and in fields. Munitions include
artillery shells, rockets, cartridges, and improvised
explosive devices.

C. MINE CASUALTIES:

Since the ceasefire accord was signed between the GSL
and LTTE in February 2002, there have been roughly 150
civilian casualties due to mines and UXO, according to
figures from the UN and the HALO Trust. For the same
period, there were 41 military casualties due to
demining accidents and three due to mines and UXO. The
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has
started a victim's assistance program in Sri Lanka, and
through the Leahy War Victims Fund, U.S. assistance is
provided to a prosthetics center in Jaffna, located in
the north of the country.

--------------------------------------------
SECTION TWO -- OPERATIONAL PLANNING DOCUMENT
--------------------------------------------

A. GENERAL:
Our National Demining Program for Sri Lanka has been
divided into three distinct phases:
-- Phase One: (2002-Present) Prepare for long-term
DoD/DoS train-and-equip program, while dealing with the
situation in the short-term via Quick Reaction Demining
Force "I" and "II."

-- Phase Two: (Present) State Department-sponsored
RONCO demining instructors to train the Sri Lanka Army
in internationally accepted humanitarian demining
standards. Training will be followed by technical
oversight of demining operations in cooperation with the
SLA.

-- Phase Three: (FY-2004) Assess impact of previous
programs, with follow-on action to be determined.
Possible programs include additional funding to
established mine risk education programs, strengthening
of existing U.S.-trained Sri Lanka Army demining forces
with additional equipment or training, and the
widespread deployment of mine detecting dogs.

>>> More details on these phases follows below:

i) Phase One: (2002-Present)

Phase One was conceived as the planning stage, to assess
indigenous capacity to accept demining assistance, to
identify the most appropriate recipients of said
assistance, and to move forward with an indigenous
capacity-building strategy. While the DoD/DoS train-and
equip program was temporarily sidelined by the
international situation, two successive QRDF teams were
sent to Jaffna, one from April-October 2002, and the
other from March-July 2003.

ii) Phase Two: (Present)

Under the sponsorship of the State Department, a RONCO
team will begin a training program for Sri Lanka Army
officers, enlisted personnel, and medics in August 2003.
The program will include basic demining methods,
emergency medical procedures and mine action supervisory
tactics. Following the successful completion of
training courses, the Sri Lanka Army will begin demining
areas in the north/east to internationally accepted
standards. Specific tasks during the operational phase
will include:

- Humanitarian demining operations by the Sri Lanka Army
with RONCO technical oversight focused on facilitating
return of IDPs

- UXO removal in affected areas

- Close cooperation with UNDP to improve surveys and
available maps

iii) Phase Three: (FY-2004)

In the long-term, strategic considerations include
continuing to develop national capabilities to perform
mine action activities to internationally accepted
standards with the aim of developing indigenous Sri
Lankan management and implementation. After determining
program impact of Phase Two, additional follow-on action
will be determined. Depending on level of impact and
performance in developing indigenous mine clearance
capacity, additional training and/or equipment may be
deemed appropriate. Specific items could include:
additional training on improvised explosive devices;
ongoing training and improvement in deployment of dogs;
and additional equipment, i.e., vegetation cutters;
mechanical flails, etc.

B. ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

Since U.S.-led demining efforts began in April 2002,
large amounts of progress has been made. Totals for
QRDF I in 2002 were 980 mines removed, along with 42
pieces of UXO, and a total of 122,000 square meters
cleared. In 2003, QRDF II removed 244 mines and 106
pieces of UXO. Total square meters cleared was 72,208.
The land cleared in QRDF I and QRDF II facilitated safe
IDP return.

C. PROGRAM STATUS:

The Sri Lankan government's National Steering Committee
on Mine Action (NSCMA) is the only national-level mine
action office in Sri Lanka. The UNDP is currently
strengthening the management and technical capacity of
the GSL to deal with the landmine threat by implementing
a program of support for the NSCMA.

At present, there are about twelve organizations
conducting mine clearance or education programs in Sri
Lanka, which relies largely on donor support for mine
clearance programs. The Sri Lanka Army Engineers
division conducts clearance and removal duties, but has
inadequate funding to deal with the extent of the
landmine problem. Moreover, international standards of
mine clearance are not currently in place.

D. PROGRAM TRANSITION:

The level of cooperation and appreciation shown by the
government to US-led efforts in the past has been
outstanding. With the startup in the near future of a
major train-and-equip program by the U.S. to the Sri
Lanka Army, indigenous support is expected to grow even
further. As the goal of the FY-2003 program is to
establish an indigenous capacity, further oversight will
be needed to ensure: a) adherence to internationally
accepted standards of mine clearance; and b) that the
nature of mine clearance activities are humanitarian in
nature, with maximum emphasis placed on facilitating IDP
returns.

-------------------------
SECTION THREE -- TRAINING
-------------------------

USG DOS PROVIDED TRAINING:

Phase Two training is set to begin in late August 2003.
The demining platoon will consist of an organic
leadership structure within the Sri Lanka Army,
consisting of two demining sections. Each section will
consist of eleven personnel -- one team leader, one
second-in-command, one medic, and eight deminers. The
training platoon will consist of two teams, with
selected officers, senior noncommissioned officers, and
enlisted personnel from field engineer regiments. At
the completion of training, it is estimated that there
will be nearly two hundred trained deminers and deminer
instructors produced by the project.

Future (FY-2004) training would be assessed on
completion of the FY-2003 program to ascertain future
needs and address any operational difficulties observed
in the first iteration of training. Specialized
training in improvised explosive devices and training
with mine detecting dogs is recommended in the future.

--------------------------------------------- ----
SECTION FOUR - MAINTENANCE AND LOGISTICAL SUPPORT
--------------------------------------------- ----

A. MAINTENANCE PLANNING SUPPORT

This will be assessed on completion of training before
moving into the operational phase. All equipment
purchased for this project will, upon completion of the
contract, be donated to the Sri Lanka Army.

B. LOGISTICS SUPPORT ANALYSIS:
Not relevant at this time as the major end-items
provided are still to be determined.

C. SUPPLY SUPPORT OBJECTIVE: N/A

D. SUPPORT EQUIPMENT: N/A

E. COMMERICAL MANUALS AND TECHNICAL DATA: N/A

F. FACILITIES OBJECTIVE:

Repairs and improvements to structures used by RONCO
personnel for training or habitation will be assessed on
an ongoing basis, subject to operational needs. At
present, no major repairs are foreseen.

G. TRAINING SUPPORT AND COMPUTER RESOURCES: N/A

---------------------------------
SECTION FIVE - FUNDING OBJECTIVES
---------------------------------

A. NADR FUNDING PRIORITIES:

Funding priorities will follow on needs assessed during
current year project. Due to the nature of the program,
i.e., building indigenous capacity, funding needs will
likely be in the areas of equipment maintenance and
replacement.

B. FMF RESOURCES: N/A

C. OHDACA:

A Blast Resuscitation and Victim analysis (BRAVA) Team
has been initiated by DoD and is expected to start
deploying in the first quarter of FY-2004. The focus
will be training for the treatment of civilian
casualties associated with victims from mine/UXO
explosions. In addition, DoD conducted a survey for a
Humanitarian Action Demining (HA-D) training program
that had been expected to start in the second quarter of
FY-2003. Unfortunately, events involving the
international situation forced the reallocation of the
U.S. military personnel that were designated to conduct
the training. Since that time, the United States Marine
Corps has been given the responsibility for HA-D in Sri
Lanka and is expected to start deploying in FY-2004 once
unit training is completed.

D. OTHER DONORS:

At present, roughly twelve organizations are operating
in Sri Lanka. The UN provides two technical advisers
for mine action, and maintains a database comprising the
most complete records on landmines at present. Made up
of reports from NGOs and mine records obtained from the
Sri Lanka Army, the UN's Information Management System
for Mine Action (IMSMA) database is currently the most
comprehensive in Sri Lanka. UNDP, HALO Trust, Norwegian
People's Aid, Danish Demining Group, UNICEF, Mines
Advisory Group, Mine Free Planet, the Swiss Federation
for Demining, Handicap International, Mines Awareness
Trust and the pro-LTTE Tamil Rehabilitation Organization
(TRO) all perform mine clearance and/or education
programs.

End text.

2. Mission point of contact for humanitarian demining
is Political Officer Chris Long, office 941-448-007,
ext. 2426; home 941-551-365.

3. Minimize considered.

ENTWISTLE

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