Cablegate: State Department-Sponsored Humanitarian

Published: Fri 23 May 2003 06:11 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: State Department-sponsored humanitarian
demining effort making excellent progress in Jaffna
Refs: Colombo 436, and previous
1. (U) This message is Sensitive but Unclassified --
Please handle accordingly.
2. (SBU) SUMMARY: The State Department-sponsored Quick
Reaction Demining Force (QRDF) is making excellent
progress in its humanitarian demining operations in
Jaffna. Cooperation with the GSL and the Tamil
community is excellent, with the whole operation reaping
the U.S. solid kudos. END SUMMARY.
3. (SBU) Since its deployment in Jaffna in northern Sri
Lanka in late March, the State Department-sponsored QRDF
program has made excellent progress in its humanitarian
demining operations in Jaffna. Thus far, the team,
which consists of U.S. contractors from RONCO and
Mozambican deminers, has removed 106 mines and 74 pieces
of unexploded ordnance (UXO). Total square meters
cleared as of mid-May is 10,326. The majority of the
mines cleared thus far have been of the anti-personnel
type. (Note: The site being demined, which is adjacent
to the village of Sarasalai, east of Jaffna town, also
has a high incidence of UXO. The village is located on
a former forward defensive line which saw significant
shelling by both the military and the Tamil Tigers.)
4. (SBU) Cooperation from the GSL has been excellent.
Don Smith, the team leader, told us that the QRDF has an
excellent working relationship with Sri Lankan military
forces working in the area. The Sri Lanka Army (SLA),
for example, is currently providing certain supplies to
the QRDF, as well as the use of emergency medical
facilities as needed. (Note: FYI: The SLA is
currently demining three sites in Jaffna. In general,
the military's demining is not up to international
humanitarian standards, which is also the case with
Tamil Tiger demining.)
5. (SBU) Cooperation with the Tamil community is
excellent. Tamils reportedly welcome the efforts of the
QRDF, with civilians coming forward on a daily basis to
request assistance in demining their lands or providing
the QRDF pieces of UXO to dispose of. Tamil politicians
have also told Mission how appreciative they are of the
QRDF's efforts.
6. (SBU) COMMENT: As with its predecessor program in
Jaffna, the current QRDF operation continues to help the
U.S. in its relations with the GSL and the Tamil
community. (Note: A previous QRDF was also in place in
Jaffna last year.) Moreover, the QRDF's efforts
reinforce our support for the peace process, which is
going through a rocky period at this time. U.S.
assistance in the north also tends to undermine the
Tigers' consistent refrain that no international
assistance is getting through to Tamils. There is
little doubt that there is a problem with GSL assistance
dissemination, but some international projects (like
QRDF) are up-and-running. END COMMENT.
7. (U) Minimize considered.
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