Socioeconomic development will aid ethnic reconciliation - NECORD Director

[TamilNet, Sunday, 22 September 2002, 12:39 GMT]
"Trincomalee is one of the worst affected districts in the island due to the ethnic war. It is estimated that a minimum sum of ten billion rupees is required to resettle and rehabilitate the displaced population and to rebuild damaged and destroyed infrastructure," said the Project Director of the North East Community Restoration Development (NECORD), Mr.T.Lankaneson. He was addressing a seminar in Trincomalee Saturday, Organised by the Rotary Clubs of Colombo Mid-City and Trincomalee.

NECORD, which is funded by the Asian Development Bank, has been engaged in implementing several rehabilitation and reconstruction projects in the war ravaged Northeast Province.

Develpoment seminar in Trincomalee
Mr.T.Lankaneson, Project Director of the NECORD inaugurates the seminar by lighting traditional oil lamp.
Addressing a one-day seminar on Information Technology to students in Trincomalee held at Trincomalee Methodist Girl's College Saturday Mr.Lankaneson further said, "the people in Trincomalee district are poor, the investment is low, and we don't utilize the existing resources efficiently. A large number of people are suffering from psychosocial trauma. Many women, widows, orphans, elders and disabled do not receive adequate assistance; there is suspicion and hatred among communities."

"Efforts for peace and reconciliation will not be successful unless suspicion and hatred among communities are eliminated. To achieve reconciliation and bring peace and prosperity to Trincomalee district, we need immediate socio-economic development," said Mr.Lankaneson.

Mr.Lankaneson further said, "the demographic pattern of the district has been changing since 1971 due to colonisation and displacement. There are fears about domination of one community over the other and this has manifested in communal tension and clashes. To bring peace and reconciliation appropriate measures by the government and law enforcing authorities should be taken to ensure that no community is exploited, discriminated or marginalized and all are free to enjoy the same freedom, rights, privileges and opportunities. The structural, cultural and religious violence perpetrated in the past should be eliminated."

Develpoment seminar in Trincomalee
A section of the students attending the seminar, jointly organised by the Rotary Clubs of Colombo Mid City and Trincomalee.
"Seventy percent of the total population of Trincomalee is displaced. More than fifty percent of the population of the district is under poverty line and majority of them are 'Samurdhi' (poverty alleviation) recipients. This is rather tragic. Because, Trincomalee district is highly blessed with natural resources. The abundant fisheries resources are not properly used. Vast tracks of land are idling fallow. More than fifty percent of the cultivable lands are not cultivated. With rich grazing fields all over the in the district, the livestock population and the milk production are gradually declining. As a result of all, the unemployment is rising and poverty is increasing leading tosocial tension and youth unrest."

Mr.Lankaneson further said, "in the past the war could have been a justifiable reason for not investing in Trincomalee. But with peace becoming a reality it is wiser to use the available resources rather than making large capital investments on new equipment and assets, which the country cannot afford. Developing Trincomalee harbour is a peace dividend for Trincomalee and for the entire country. Thousands of youth could find employment.

Rotarian R.Thirukumaranathan, President of the Trincomalee Rotary Club presided. Rotarian D.Narain, President of the Colombo Mid-City Rotary Club also participated in the event.


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