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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2040

British High Commission on integration and reconciliation initiatives in Sri Lanka

Colombo, 11 November,(Asiantribune.com):

The 2018 budget proposal incorporates many reconciliation focused interventions with very clear focused on the North and East Districts will be of much significance in bringing the reconciliation initiatives such as 50,000 housing projects, road rehabilitation, Myliddy fisheries harbor interventions, Atchuvely industrial estate, rehabilitation economic centre in the Northern Province, Economically integrated ex- combatants and support for the disable women will contribute significantly to make the National integration a reality.

The British High Commission Delegation which met officials of the National Integration and Reconciliation, requested to pay special attention for the implementation capacity of the Northern and Eastern community. But the Ministry officials informed that if Districts have commitment, capacity, and delivery these concerns can be addressed. Some Districts are performing well despite constraints, the officials added.

Recently, British High Commission Delegation comprising of Mr. Paul Bentall, Senior Research Analyst and Justice Consultant, Mr. Eric Vincent, Regional Head of Stabilization Unit and Ms. Jovita Arulanantham, Political Officer visited the Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation to discuss the progress on reconciliation, integration and peace building initiatives in Sri Lanka at the Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation.

The British Delegation was briefed by Mr.V.Sivagnanasothy, Secretary of Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation on the reconciliation interventions covering Reconciliation Policy; National integration and reconciliation week; integration friendly schools programme; integration friendly media and peace journalism; institutionalizing national integration and reconciliation on Sunday schools teaching programme; curriculum development initiatives including incorporating virtues, values, ethical principles and comparative religious studies; Reconciliation Focused 50,000 Housing Programme; 66 high Priority Roads Project; Reconciliation Focused Economic Empowerment Project; Reconciliation Focused High Priority Economic and Social Infrastructure Development in Lagging Regions Programme; Reconciliation scorecards and barometer; operationalization of Office on Missing Persons (OMP) and other related initiatives.

The British delegation while appreciating the comprehensive and logical programme interventions specially expressed the following matters:

The Delegation expressed the different data on missing persons by the Maxwell Paranagama Commission, Darusman’s report and other sources were discussed. The Ministry of National Integration has already initiated action to get the data from the District Secretariat based on actual reported cases. All 25 Districts will be covered in capturing data on missing persons as it will not be restricted to one ethnic group said Mr.V.Sivagnanasothy, Secretary of Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation.

The delegation stated the hate speech should be totally banned, but it is necessary in ensuring that it does not erode the freedom of expression.

The District Reconciliation Committee (DRCs) has been established by a Cabinet Paper submitted by the President. The Asia Foundation and other reconciliation advocates have supported in establishing Divisional level committees with inter-religious leaders and this need to be linked to the DRC to make DRC more grounded. The unresolved matters of the DRC will be brought to the attention of National Reconciliation Committee (NRCs).

The reconciliation scorecards with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will help to track the progress and measure the achievements of reconciliation. It is also necessary to compliment the same with a perception survey which will have more qualitive information which may also be useful to get a real picture of reconciliation achievements.
The delegation said the Northern Ireland experience of devolution has helped United Kingdom (UK) to maintain peace. Hence constitutional reforms in Sri Lanka can also significantly influence to achieve reconciliation and peace.

The British delegation when addressing ex-combatants through economic empowerment and livelihood expressed that it is vital to ensure sustainable social integration and to avoid future recurrence or to keep the incidents of tensions very low.

The delegation also emphasized the root causes of conflicts should be addressed, specially the economic disparity and language issues.

The Officials of the British delegation appreciated the intervention taken by the Sri Lankan Army to construct houses in Kankesanthurai (KKS) which demonstrates the social responsibility of Sri Lankan Army. They also commended the initiative on 50,000 Brick and Mortar Type Houses which are more socially acceptable to the community. Further, although the model is contractor-driven rather than owner-driven, the involvement of community in monitoring and quality assurance was commendable as ownership is built through such processes.

The Delegation also said the housing programme need to be complimented with other social and economic infrastructure such as schools, temples, health centres, roads etc. which will make it more acceptable. In relation to housing and livelihood programme the selection of beneficiaries to be done in a fair and just manner and Appeal Boards should be in place to receive complaints and investigate into them.

The British delegation when addressing ex-combatants through economic empowerment and livelihood expressed that it is vital to ensure sustainable social integration and to avoid future recurrence or to keep the incidents of tensions very low.

The delegation also emphasized the root causes of conflicts should be addressed, specially the economic disparity and language issues.

Language issue has been basically resolved, but implementation needs to be accelerated. Disparities are also addressed through housing, roads and economic empowerment programmes.

- Asian Tribune -

British High Commission on integration and reconciliation initiatives in Sri Lanka
British High Commission on integration and reconciliation initiatives in Sri Lanka
British High Commission on integration and reconciliation initiatives in Sri Lanka
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