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DateLine Monday, 21 April 2008

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Prospects for LTTE surrendees

The decision by the Foreign Employment Ministry to expand the skills development programme for LTTE surrendees in the North East with a view to equip them for overseas employment is a most welcome move which would enable these hapless youth open a new leaf in their hitherto miserable lives.

The move while providing equal opportunity for their development on par with the rest of their countrymen could also win praise for Sri Lanka for the treatment of her enemy forces compassionately, unlike in some countries where captives are tortured and maltreated although they preach Human rights to others.

A front page story in our weekend paper the Sunday Observer stated that over 60 LTTE cadres who have surrendered at the three rehabilitation Centres set up by the Security forces in the Jaffna, Batticloa and Trincomalee Districts are currently being put through their paces in vocations such a carpentry motor mechanism and plumbing that have a ready demand in the foreign job market.

Having being forced into a life where death stalked them every moment this may have been a welcome release to these youth who may never have known about the opportunities afforded by the larger world outside their dark prison. Hence the authorities who mooted this idea should be praised for displaying vision.

This is the first time that these youth are being exposed to a different life away from the guns, bombs and land mines and the first time they are being given a taste of civilian existence following the traumatic experiences of the life they had left behind.

This is also the first time they are being provided an opportunity to make use of the their hands which not very long ago were holding guns and bombs, to be put into productive use that would fashion a for them a future in a civilised world where they could live as equal stake holders enjoying the opportunities and pleasures open to youth of their age.

It would no doubt be a tough task to get these youth with their brutalised mind set to acquaint themselves with a totally alien milieu and the necessary counselling and phycological support is a sine quo non to exorcise them from the evil that had been dinned into their young minds. It is hoped that attention would be paid to this aspect as well so that the project will achieve the desired results.

Now that the programme is proceeding in earnest measures should also be explored for attracting foreign assistance to enhance the scope of the programme. This, while taking the project to a new level would also reinforce the Government's claim of equal treatment afforded to all it's citizens while demonstrating it's commitment to free innocent tamils from the murderous grip of the LTTE.

There is no doubt that the customary industry and zeal of the Jaffna citizen would have rubbed on these youth to quickly assimilate into their new environment and take to the new vistas open to them with gusto.

While the development of skills to acquire a profession is commendable these youth should also be exposed to the mainstream life of the South so that they would be able to compare the two existences and appreciate the virtues of civilised living.

In this regard steps should be taken to create more programmes of interaction and expose them to the orderly civilian life that would invariably facilitate their integration into their new environment.

These were youth who had been cut away from the good thing of life and lost their innocence of their youth under a murderous gun culture depriving them of a home and a normal existence.

They were brutalised and raised in a environment where only life they were accustomed to was of violence, mayhem and a trail of death and devastation. The proponents of this programme therefore should be commended for this far seeing approach where the they had opened the doors for a new life for a segment of our citizens who languished in oblivion behind the iron curtain exposed to a beastly existence.

The nation needs a forward march

Our society stands divided both racially and politically. The major political parties have experienced cracks. Political disunity thwarts the forward march of the nation. Therefore, we must recognize the immediate danger posed by fragmentation of political parties.

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Development financing still gender-blind

When the U.N.'s Economic and Social Council held a special high-level meeting to discuss the new challenges facing the international community, the focus was largely on the credit crisis, rising commodity prices, declining development aid and the devastating impact of climate change on developing nations.

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Looking ahead with SriLankan

When President Mahinda Rajapaksa, at his recent meeting with the staff of SriLankan Airlines advised them :for a country which has overcome such significant and burning issues and political challenges, winning the SriLankan Airlines battle and making it a vibrant and profitable business venture, should not be an arduous task, provided you all rally round the management and accept full responsibility of your duties, he made a very important statement.

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Carefree under the sheltering sky 

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