Impressed by conditions for IDPs in North - Yasushi Akashi
We have the utmost sympathy for the Internally Displaced Persons in
Sri Lankas 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
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 countrys 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
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
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 the 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 governments 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 a schools, health
facilities and roads and would continue to assist Sri Lanka in line with
needs and developments taking place there.