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Thursday, January 17, 2013 - 04.51 GMT

Schools reborn on former minefields


People in former conflict-affected areas are gradually restating their normal life as the area is been cleared.

When you took those mines out of the ground, our children were able to come back," said Anton Kulathas, the principal of Puthukudiyiruppu Roman Catholic School.

"They have happily restarted their new school lives in peace,"

In total, 279 landmines and nearly 500 other dangerous remnants of conflict were removed from the school and its grounds during 2012, each of which could have cost lives or limbs.

Located in Puthukudiyiruppu the school educated around 600 students prior to the conflict. But fighting forced villagers to leave the area in 2009, many fleeing south to the Menik Farm camp for internally displaced people.

MAG was the first international agency active in the Puthukudiyiruppu DS Division following the end of the conflict.

During this process, they identified more than 1.1 million m2 of land in and around the school that was heavily contaminated by landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). During clearance work from March to September 2012, 276 anti-personnel mines, three anti-tank mines and 477 items of UXO were removed.

Though the school's buildings are still damaged and facilities limited, the 266 boys and girls now studying here are glad to be back. "We do not have chairs, tables and desks," one told us, "but my friends and I are happy to be able to study in our own school."

And Anton Kulathas, the Principal, anticipates that because of the now safe access, the school will receive much-needed assistance to bring it back up to its former status. "Even though we have limited facilities, we are very happy," he said.

Courtesy: Relief Web





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Last modified: January 17, 2013.

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