|Wednesday, 28 May 2003|
Wouter Wilton, Charge d' Affaires of the European Commission Delegation to Sri Lanka visited Jaffna from May 23 to 25, in order to do an assessment of various stakeholder needs and to monitor the progress of the EC-funded projects in Jaffna.
During Wilton's visit he had meetings with the Security Forces Commander, the Deputy GA of Jaffna, Bishop of Jaffna, Vice Chancellor of the University of Jaffna, Acting Director of Jaffna Teaching Hospital, Council of Non Governmental Organisations, Centre for Women and Development, Human Rights Commission, Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies, GTZ Schools Rehabilitation Project and several members of the Jaffna Chamber of Commerce and the Yalpanam Chamber of Commerce. Wilton visited five of the 55 schools that are being rehabilitated and furnished with EC funding (implemented by the GTZ).
On May 24 a press conference was held at Bastian Hotel in Jaffna, which was attended by journalists both from the print and electronic media. Wilton presented an overview of the various projects the EC had funded from 1993 to date and stated that the EU was looking at a package to be pledged at the forthcoming Tokyo conference. He stated that these funds would be used to rehabilitate feeder roads in the North and the East and schools, in order to open up links between the North, East and the markets of the South and encourage economic activity and growth in Sri Lanka. During the question and answer session that followed, Wilton was asked to elaborate on the reasons why no progress had taken place in Jaffna despite the ceasefire agreement. He commented that a very long conflict originating in grave differences could not be solved overnight and the fact that the process is taking time does not mean that there is no progress. As to the question of what guarantee the people of the North and East would have that the funds raised specifically for these regions at the Tokyo conference would in fact be used for the development and infrastructure requirements of these regions, Wilton responded that it was not a matter of the donor community merely signing cheques. He emphasized that the donor community would need to be consulted and be fully involved in the monitoring of the use of such funds at every stage.
Wilton emphasised the importance of the LTTE participating in the donor conference in Tokyo, as this would probably be the most important moment for Sri Lanka to showcase itself to the world as a success story coming out after long years of war.
Produced by Lake House