IDPs: Govt. already acting on agreed areas of priority - President
to Ban Ki-moon
Government is already giving the highest priority to the issues raised
by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with regard to the massive
influx of Internally Displaced Persons held hostage by the LTTE, and
matters that have arisen following the defeat of LTTE terrorism, said
President Mahinda Rajapaksa at their meeting at President's House, in
Kandy today (May 23).
The Secretary General, who met the President after a
visit to IDP relief villages in Vavuniya earlier today, said progress
must come in three critical areas such as immediate humanitarian relief,
followed by reintegration and reconstruction, leading to a sustainable
and equitable political solution in Sri Lanka.
Responding to the Secretary General's observation that
progress on all these areas must proceed in parallel, with the least
delay, President Rajapaksa said these areas had already been recognized
as those needing the highest priority, and that work was already in
place to address them. He said there were still some aspects of security
of the IDPs that had to be assured in view of the likely presence of
LTTE infiltrators among the large numbers who had come to the Government
areas. All action was being taken to ensure the safety of the IDPs, and
to expedite their resettlement and reintegration into society.
President Rajapaksa said the Government was already
working on a plan to resettle most of the IDPs within 180 days. He told
the UNSG that all resettlement will be done under internationally
accepted norms. This would require ensuring the safety of the IDPs, as
well as their rehabilitation, and providing them with new skills for
President Rajapaksa also said the Government was
committed to a political solution, and for this purpose action would be
taken based on the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.
The UN Secretary General who appreciated the
conditions the relief village at Chettikulam that he visited earlier
today, said there was room for improvement, which would require the
wider assistance of the International Community. He understood the
immense pressures brought on the Government as a result of the sudden
arrival of such large numbers of people seeking relief, who had been
held hostage for a long period.
The UN Secretary General requested the Government to
allow greater access to international relief agencies that will be able
to help with their experience and expertise. President Rajapaksa said
that as conditions improved, especially with regard to security, there
would be no objections to such assistance, from organizations that were
genuinely interested in the well being of the IDPs and the needs of
rehabilitation and reconstruction.
Mr. Ban Ki-moon assured President Rajapaksa that the
UN would extend all assistance to Sri Lanka in facing up to this new
challenge following the ending of hostilities in the country.