Wednesday, 16 July 2003  
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International civilian peace force for North-East

The Europe-based peace organisation 'Non Violent Peace Force' (NP) plans to send a team of 50 international civilians to help establish a foundation for sustainable peace in Sri Lanka between the latter part of this year and 2005.

According to the Non-Violent Peace Force, the two major goals of its projects in Sri Lanka are: To protect and support local peacemakers as they promote reconciliation and build a strong foundation for a lasting peace; To expand the NP's capacity for contributing to peace in Sri Lanka as well as for future NP missions in other conflict areas.

The NP said the conditions in Sri Lanka are ripe for the Peaceforce pilot project because civilians of all ethnic backgrounds are tired of the 19-year war that has claimed 65,000 lives, converted children into soldiers, displaced over a million citizens, and littered the beautiful Sri Lankan landscape with landmines.

"While a recent ceasefire and peace negotiations are under way at the diplomatic level, Sri Lankan peacemakers view this as the opportune time to build the grassroots base to sustain the ceasefire and build a lasting, just peace across the island nation," the NP said.

The Peaceforce has established formal partnerships with two local groups:The People's Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) and the Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies (CHA), based in northern Sri Lanka.

The Fifty trained civilian Peaceforce team members will work in 16 sites around Sri Lanka.

The team members will apply three proven methods of nonviolent action to support, amplify, and protect local peace efforts and peace workers as the latter carry out reconciliation work among conflicting parties in Sri Lanka. The Peaceforce teams will provide a protective presence within villages located in the most vulnerable areas, accompany individuals and groups who are at high risk while doing peace work and Monitor human rights abuses and increases of instability or conflict.

The programme is tentatively scheduled to end in 2006.

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