|Impressed by conditions for IDPs in North - Yasushi Akashi|
|Tuesday, 27 January 2009|
We have the utmost sympathy for the Internally Displaced Persons in Sri Lanka’s north. We visited the facilities for the IDPs in Vavuniya with the Government Agent, who is a Tamil, and met at least 50 representatives of the IDPs, both men and women.
It was observed that the IDPs there were not as haggard as those we saw when we came to the East earlier.
We were impressed by the healthy conditions, with good sanitation and other facilities that meet the needs of these people, said Yasushi Akashi, Japans Special Envoy for Peace Building, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation in Sri Lanka at Media Briefing yesterday.
He was answering questions from the media about reports regarding the alleged inhumane conditions under which IDPs were being held in the north.
He spoke to the media after his three-day visit to Sri Lanka, when he met with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and other Ministers of the Government, members of other political parties as well as representative of relief organisations both local and foreign.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa had reiterated the importance of a political solution to the country’s present issues and had given a positive explanation of how the Government was tackling the issues of ensuring the safety and security of civilians, especially in the North, and improvement of the Law and Order situation in the country.
He said the IDPs said they wished to be allowed more freedom of movement outside the present camps, which he appreciated, and was assured that this would be made possible subject to the security requirements that were necessary at present. He also asked that in addition to the relief and provisions now being provided by and through the Government, more facilities are allowed for contacts for IDPs with Government relief bodies, as well as foreign and local non-Government relief organizations that were doing a very hard job with great commitment.
He had received reports of the hardships being undergone by Tamil civilians in areas that remained under the control of the LTTE and looked forward to these conditions being eased. President Rajapaksa had stressed that all steps were being taken to bring relief to these people, too.
On the future of the Peace Process and the Tokyo Declaration of 2002, Akashi said it was regretted that the LTTE did not participate in the Tokyo Round which had the support of 61 governments and 21 international bodies in addition to the Government of Sri Lanka, and was aimed at giving much needed relief and development assistance to the Tamils of Sri Lanka, as well as the other communities of the country.
The non-participation of the LTTE had prevented this generous contribution to the Tamil people and the entire country from materialising. However, the spirit and philosophy of the Tokyo Declaration was still in place, he said.
Answering a question on the dissatisfaction of minority parties with current developments, Akashi said he had spoken to members of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and told them of the need to be supportive and participate in democratic and parliamentary means of resolving issues, as opposed to any other means. He had stressed on them the importance of becoming part of the loyal opposition which would try to seek solutions through democratic and parliamentary means, he said.
Akashi said he was impressed by the Presidents commitment to a wider political solution, which could even go beyond the 13th Amendment, and also the government’s efforts to realise its target of Zero Civilian Casualties in the ongoing military operations.
Akashi also observed that the lives of journalists and all other citizens were of great value in a democracy, and any attitudes of impudence would not be in the interests of democracy.
Akashi said he had urged the President to expedite the working of the All Party Representative Conference (APRC) that was seeking a solution based on the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.
On Japanese assistance for the East, he said there was emphasis on the development of the East after the fighting there was over. He had met with the Chief Minister and other members of the EPC. Japan was monitoring the situation regarding law and order and good governance in the East, and was aware of the need for assistance for development of the East, especially in infrastructure, such as schools, health facilities and roads, and would continue to assist Sri Lanka in line with needs and developments taking place there.
|Last Updated ( Friday, 14 August 2009 )|
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