Secretary, Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation V. Sivagnanasothy briefing the visiting European Union Parliamentary Delegation Jean Lambert about the governments reconciliation efforts in Colombo recently. EU Ambassador to Sri Lanka Tung Lai Margue also participated in the meeting.
by Zacki Jabbar
The European Union has agreed to support capacity building on conflict resolution.
The undertaking in principle was given during a meeting between a visiting European Union (EU) Parliamentary Delegation headed by Jean Lambert and Secretary, Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation (MoNIR) V. Sivagnanasothy. Among those present on the occasion was the EU Ambassador to Sri Lanka Tung Lai Margue.
Sivagnanasothy said that he had briefed the delegates on strategies, initiatives and progress of the governments reconciliation programme.
The MoNIR comes under the purview of President Maithripala Sirisena.
“The EU Mission commended the District Reconciliation Committee (DRC), a Cabinet approved initiative of President Sirisena in all 25 Districts, to resolve religious and ethnic tensions and formulate strategies for conflict resolution through mediation, negotiation and amicable settlement”, he noted adding that the delegation approved of the involvement of religious dignitaries in the DRC as a positive step. “They agreed in principle to extend support for capacity building on conflict resolution, especially through the DRC.”
Sivagnanasothy said that the EU had also commended the progress made in establishing the Office of the Missing Persons (OMP), the Gazette issued to operationalize it by the President and steps taken to appoint seven Commissioners through the Constitutional Council in a transparent manner.
The programme to inculcate integration and reconciliation to school children and youth through integration friendly school and Sunday Religious School Teaching Programme was also explained, he said.
Sivanansothy said that the delegates had referred to the experiences and international best practices of other countries such as South Africa and Northern Ireland and localization and contextualization of strategies as noteworthy.
They were also briefed on the progress of Transitional Justice Initiatives especially the 50,000 permanent housing programme for the Northern and Eastern Provinces and the 2500 kilometers of road rehabilitation programme including the livelihood support and economic empowerment programme as a reparation initiative through a Cabinet Memorandum submitted by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe which would be implemented by the MoNIR, he added
The Economic Empowerment Programme and Social Infrastructure Support Programme for the Northern and Eastern Provinces was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers in October 2017 based on a Cabinet Paper submitted by President Sirisena in his capacity as a Minister of National Integration and Reconciliation.
Sivagnanasothy said that the EU delegation having visited the Northern Province observed the progress made on land release and suggested that the process be accelerated to facilitate resettlement which would benefit all Sri Lankans. They noted the significant progress had been made in the reconciliation agenda, he added.
He said the MoNIR’s programmes such as peace journalism workshops, reconciliation walks, national integration week , support for war widows, women headed families, refugee returnees, socially integrated ex-combatants, missing person’s families , disabled and internally displaced families,the initiative on reconciliation, scorecard and barometer, which were supported by the UNDP and the ADB to track the reconciliation achievements, we’re also explained
The EU Delegation headed by Jean Denise Lambert, comprised Ambassador Tung Lai Margue, Richard Graham Corbett, Ulrike Muller, Wajid Khan, Paul Godfrey, Roshan Lyman, Sabine Susanne Meyer and other officials.