|Saturday, 7 June 2003|
by Channa Kasturisinghe
The visiting Deputy Administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Frederick W. Shieck yesterday said in Colombo that the LTTE's absence at the Tokyo Donor Conference would represent a lost opportunity for the people in Sri Lanka, particularly those in the North and the East. He said while the LTTE's decision will be disadvantageous for the very people the Tigers claim to represent, it will also send the wrong signal to the international community who will gather in Tokyo to pledge their support to a united Sri Lanka.
The US official during his three-day stay in Sri Lanka visited some areas in the war torn North. He leaves for Tokyo today to join the US delegation at the donors' conference on reconstruction and redevelopment of Sri Lanka.
Shieck, while expressing hope that the LTTE would even at the last minute participaten the Conference said that irrespective of the LTTE's participation the donor countries would provide maximum financial assistance to support Sri Lanka.
"I visited the most war-torn sections of the Chavakachcheri area, where the USAID officials are working to rebuild schools. I saw US Government funded demining teams restoring 250,000 square metres of land to international standards. I was impressed by the people I saw there and their resilience.
Two decades of conflict has widened the gap between aspirations and opportunities among these people. It will take commitment from the Government, the opposition, the civil society and most importantly the LTTE in working together to ensure a future of peace and prosperity, for all Sri Lankans", Shieck said.
He said the US Government would donate US $ 250,000 to provide clean drinking water for 100,000 residents of Ratnapura, Galle, Matara and Kalutara districts.
This grant will support the World Vision's efforts to clean and repair wells in some of the worst-affected areas of those four districts.
This donation is in addition to US $ 50,000 provided earlier by the USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance to provide flood-affected families through the Sri Lanka Red Cross. Shieck said the US assistance to Sri Lanka dates back to 1956 when the mission signed its first bilateral agreement with Sri Lanka.
"Since then, we have provided nearly US $ 2 billion in support of Sri Lanka. USAID assistance accounts for the largest portion of these funds," he said.
Produced by Lake House