Akashi satisfied over progress at IDP villages
The Foreign Ministry said yesterday that visiting Japanese Special
Envoy Yasushi Akashi had expressed his satisfaction over the progress he
witnessed at the IDP welfare villages in the North, since his last visit
to Sri Lanka.
The Ministry in a statement said that Akashi at a discussion with the
Foreign Minister and other officials had said that normalizing the
living conditions of the IDPs was a daunting task for any country, and
in this context, Sri Lanka had been coping with the humanitarian
situation with tenacity and sincerity.
Minister Rohitha Bogollagama, while acknowledging the existence of
shortcomings in the welfare villages and IDP camps, had emphasized that
the Government was taking concerted action to improve the facilities and
services in these locations.
During discussions he had also pointed out that the welfare villages
were under civilian control. Referring to the presence of the military,
the Minister had said that their role was to provide security to the
camps and to clear and build basic infrastructure to accommodate the
The Minister had also reiterated the Government's firm commitment to
the implementation of the 180 day program to resettle 80 percent of the
IDPs in their native places, which has already begun in the Mannar
The Ministry also said that during the discussions, the need for
international community to help Sri Lanka rebuild the conflict damaged
infrastructure in the North too had come under close scrutiny.
The Japanese delegation had responded positively to the request for
financial assistance to undertake de-mining of areas in the North, to
make them safe for human habitation and economic development they added.
Japan has already contributed US$ 2.1 million this year to finance
de-mining operations in the North.Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said the
immediate priority for the Government was to address the humanitarian
needs of the IDPs, who have undergone untold pain and suffering.
He said the Government was committed to restore the livelihoods of
these people, which would enable them to return to their homes and
rebuild their lives. In this context, he underscored the need for rapid
economic development of the North, which will open new vistas of
Referring to the political process which is underway to find a
lasting solution to the conflict, Prof. Peiris pointed out that one of
the most heinous acts the LTTE had committed in the past had been to
destroy the entire political leadership of the Tamil people.
In this backdrop, it is the expectation of the Government that by
holding local government elections in the North, space would be created
for the emergence of a new and viable leadership among the Tamil
Having defeated terrorism, it was of paramount importance that this
victory be translated into political empowerment of the people and
economic development of the North. In the past, some of the political
proposals could not be implemented due to a lack of consensus in the
Therefore, the Minister pointed that it was essential that the APRC
proposals that are being finalized should command the support of the
Foreign Secretary, Dr. Palitha Kohona, Justice and Law Reforms
Ministry Secretary and Commissioner General of Rehabilitation, Suhada
Gamalath, Secretary to the Healthcare and Nutrition Ministry Dr. Athula
Kahandaliyanage, senior officials of the Foreign Ministry and relevant
line Ministries were on the Sri Lankan delegation. Japanese Ambassador
to Sri Lanka, Kunio Takahashi and accompanying members of the Japanese
delegation were associated with Akashi.