Commonwealth Secretariat delegation visits Sri Lanka

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 26 March 2003, 11:53 GMT]
A four-member delegation of the Commonwealth Secretariat (CS) is now on a visit to Sri Lanka from March 16 to March 29 for discussions with representatives of local, national and international level non-governmental organizations and government agencies to promote the peace process. The Commonwealth Secretariat has proposed a national consultation meeting on 'Women, Men and Young People in Partnership for Sustainable Peace' to be held in two parts in Trincomalee and Kandy in June 2003, sources said.

The CS delegation arrived Trincomalee Monday and held discussions with representatives of local, national and international NGOs in the east port town on "Education and health for Development and Sustainable Peace", sources said.

The CS delegation comprised of Mr.Syed Sharifuddin, Dr.Ved Goel, Dr Ms R.Baksh Soodeen and Dr Richard Konteh.

CW delegation
Commonwealth Secretariat delegation ( L-R) Mr.Syed Sharifuddin, Dr.Ved Goel, Dr.Ms Baksh Soodeen and Dr.Richard Konteh

The aim of the consultation was to address the different ways in which the war has affected women, men and young people. The consultation would bring together government, civil society, and sectoral and regional representatives from all sections and communities in Sri Lanka to achieve the broadest possible consensus on the components of sustainable peace building and post-conflict reconstruction, CS sources said.

At the discussion held at the office of the Trincomalee District NGOs Consortium, the CS delegation was briefed by the local representatives of local NGOs and international NGOs about the ground situation in Trincomalee district before and after the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, sources said.

The education standard in rural and difficult areas in Trincomalee district has not improved because of teacher shortage. Teachers are reluctant to go to remote schools to serve rural students, local representatives pointed out.

Acute malnutrition still prevails in rural areas in the district even after the MoU has been signed. The ceasefire is in force but normalcy has not returned to the lives of the rural villagers. Women in rural areas are still insecure, local representatives told SC delegation.

Displaced families still reside in refugee camps and welfare centres unable to go to their own lands as no facilities have been provided to them to start a new life, NGO's representatives pointed out.

War widows live in the district without a bright future. Several women whose husbands have disappeared after the arrest by the security forces have also been included in the list of war widows, the SC delegation was told.

The main objectives of the CS mission are to receive a comprehensive briefing on the peace process and its expected outcomes for economic and social development of Sri Lanka from a broad spectrum of society, meet with other multilateral and bilateral agencies, to discuss partnerships in organizing the consultation and addressing follow up programmes and to identify representatives from all sections of civil and political life in Sri Lanka's society and development sector to participate in the consultation, CS sources said.

CW delegation
Representatives of local and international NGOs in Trincomalee district meeting the Commonwealth Secretariat delegation

 

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