Friday, September 25, 2009

'Resurgence of LTTE must be prevented'- PM to Asia Society

Rebuilding Sri Lanka after 25 years of war will, among other things, require preventing a resurgence of the LTTE, said Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake addressing at the Asia Society in New York last night.

“Sri Lanka suffered for almost three decades of destruction from terrorism by the LTTE,” Prime Minister said. Despite victory, he said, “residual effects and related problems remain.”

Speaking at Asia Society, the prime minister said resettling internally displaced persons (IDPs) is the country’s largest post-war challenge. However, he made clear that a full resettlement will take time. “You cannot have a solution overnight,” he stressed. He said an estimated 280,000 still remain in welfare centers, as a result of the conflict.

“It is not an easy task to provide welfare to these people all at once... yet we accepted this challenge," he said. "Today, the displaced are being resettled systematically and efficiently.”

In an effort to expedite the recovery of the war-torn North and East, Mr. Wickremanayake called on the international community to boost investment in the country. “We need the support and cooperation from nations that can afford to,” he said. The prime minister stated that the government has already begun substantial reconstruction projects in the two regions.

The Prime Minister also called on nations to help Sri Lanka clear the large number of mines scattered throughout the country’s North. “Terrorists have planted landmines in playgrounds, holy sites, farm fields, and roads,” he said. “We are not ready to push our people onto these death traps.”

“Accept that we have a big problem,” the prime minister urged, “and helps us.”
In a question-and-answer session moderated by Asia Society’s Executive Vice President Jamie Metzl, Wickremanayake addressed allegations of human rights abuses by the military and criticism of the government’s treatment of displaced Tamils and he denied allegations of human rights abuses, saying “no crimes were committed by the army.”

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