Secretary-General tells President:
Lanka has better story
Sri Lanka has a better story than is getting out to the world on
matters of concern to the United Nations such as Internally Displaced
Persons (IDPs), human rights and post conflict development was the view
of United Nations Under Secretary General for Political Affairs Lynn
Pascoe following his meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday.
Pascoe met the President after visiting Vavuniya and other areas of
the North to get a first hand view of ongoing de-mining, resettlement of
IDPs and the IDP relief villages of Menik Farm. He expressed
satisfaction at the progress being made on de-mining especially with the
use of new imported equipments to speed up the process and assured of
more UN assistance in this regard.
He said that while the many assurances given by the President
regarding the resettlement of the IDPs were very helpful, there was
concern about the uncertainty of the government’s plans and the need to
make sure the genuine assurances of the President would be implemented.
President Rajapaksa said that it’s necessary to understand that both
Sri Lanka and the UN were eager the get things done.
“I understand the pressure and constraints on the Secretary General.
However you must also understand the problems we face”, he said.
The President said that more than 200,000 people had come to the
government side in just 24 hours and the government is now feeding,
clothing, providing health care and looking after them properly, while
proceeding with plans for their resettlement.
Responding to Pascoe’s observation that the International Community
has concerns when it hears that resettlement will be done after
de-mining is completed, President said resettlement did depend on the
He mentioned that sixteen years after its war, Croatia had still not
finished de-mining. “We do not intend taking so much time. I have laid
down an initial target of 180 days to resettle at least 70 percent of
With the new equipment in use, and hopefully more to come, he
expected the entire resettlement to be completed by the end of next
January. We have identified areas for resettlement and the people will
be sent back no sooner they are cleared, he said.
On the question of IDPs moving to live with relations outside, the
President explained that the government had already published
advertisements in the media, calling for applications from persons
seeking such resettlement.
However, only 2000 applications had been received. These notices
would be published again and also displayed prominently at the welfare
With regard to the freedom of movement outside the relief centers the
President said that arrangements are already being made to issue day
passes for IDPs who wish to go and work outside each day.
Senior Advisor to the President Basil Rajapaksa said with the
experience of 2000 applicants for re-union with relations, and the
limited numbers of jobs in the area, it is likely that there will be
only few takers for these day passes.
Recalling President Rajapaksa’s earlier commendable record on human
rights, Pascoe said he would appreciate the need to bring about
necessary changes to the role of the security, forces especially after a
very long war.