Two children playing in front of their house at Mullaiyadi of Pazhai in Jaffna peninsula part of the Ki’linochchi district were killed Wednesday, when they found an unexploded ordnance and started playing with it. 4-year-old Thamilmaran Mukunthan and his younger brother 2-year-old Thanujan Mukunthan were the victims of the tragic incident. The family has resettled in their village recently when Pazhai and Ma’niyanthoaddam areas were declared free of landmines and were opened for resettlement. In the meantime, a leading de-mining group on Tuesday said that it was winding up its activities in Jaffna district and limiting its work in Ki’linochchi district. Independent de-mining groups, supported by international community are forced to close down services at a crucial time due to lack of funds while the SL military apparatus is seeking to dominate the agenda of the entire de-mining process.
Both the parents of the children killed in Pazhai, dependent on daily wage income to run the family were preparing for their work, while their kids were playing in front of their house. The children had found a metal item near the house and included it in their play, while the attention of their parents was away from them for a short while, news sources said.
One of the children was killed on the spot and the other succumbed to his injuries while being taken to hospital.
Land mines are deadly attraction for children whose innate curiosity and need for play often lure them directly into harms way.
The explosion has come a day after Danish De-mining Group (DDG) told its employees in Jaffna that it was winding up its activities in the district while keeping their office operating there for some time and that it was limiting its work in Ki’linochchi district. 250 DDG workers are losing their jobs in Jaffna district alone as a consequence of the decision. The group has also decided to wind up the activities by sending the staff attached to Jeyapuram and Vavuniyaa offices in Vanni.
Civil groups in Jaffna and Vanni complain that the NGOs, specialized in de-mining, are being forced to closed down their services at a time when their services are required most and appealed to the international community to back the organisations at this crucial juncture.
The civil groups complained that the Sri Lankan government, despite the end of war, was still refusing to sign the Mine Ban Treaty.
The groups also complain slow progress in de-mining.
Sri Lanka Army and its hierarchy in Colombo envisage the slow progress as compatible with their land-grab and Sinahalicisation of strategic locations, they further said.
9 days ago, on 16 April, two boys who were plucking coconuts in Ketpali in Thenmaraadchi sustained serious injuries when a land mine exploded in a palm grove.
In the meantime, De-mining Coordinating Office attached to the District Secretariat of Jaffna, last Friday said that it estimated around 800,000 pieces of unexploded ordnance (UXO) as remaining in the former Forward Defence Line along Naakarkoayil, Mukamaalai and Ki’laali in Thenmaraadchi.