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Under the guidance of H.E. the President Maithripala Sirisena as Minister of Defence 683 acres of land for resettlement has been released by the Ministry of Defence and Sri Lanka Army with District Secretary, Jaffna to the owners of the land who are living with friends and relatives and in welfare camps.

This will enable to resettle 964 families of which 316 families are living in welfare camps.  The Secretary, Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation, Mr. V. Sivagnanasothy with the team of officials and District Secretary Jaffna Mr.N.Vethanayahan with District Secretariat Officials visited the land released area in Tellipalai Divisional Secretariat Division which includes Myliddy North, Thiyiddy East and Thenmailai Grama Niladhari Divisions.

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The immediate requirements were discussed and it was noted that Land preparation for resettlement, Water supply and sanitation, Renovation of internal roads, Community Infrastructure, Livelihood Assistance and Repairing of Houses were the immediate priorities. The pictures below gives a snapshot of the status.

The Secretary, Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation informed that the release of Lands is a major milestone in the National Reconciliation Process. 

The Thailand Delegation headed by Pol.L.t.Col. Phongthon Thanyasri-Secretary-General, National Office for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation,  H.E. Mrs. Chulamanee Chartsuwan-Ambassador, Embassy of Thailand, Ms. Chotika Attapimon-First Secretary, Embassy of Thailand  , and Ms. Nawarat Narkvichit-Policy and Planning Analyst, Office of the Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Justice, Thailand visited the Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation on March 12, 2018 to get first-hand information on national integration and reconciliation processes in Sri Lanka.

The discussion with the delegation spelt out the structural overview of the Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation and signified the importance given to the reconciliation agenda of Sri Lanka as it was headed by His Excellency President Maithripala Sirisena in his capacity as the Minister. The delegation was briefed on the establishment of the Office on Missing Persons (OMP) under the Act, No. 14 of 2016 to search and trace the whereabouts and the fate of the missing persons as a part of the transitional justice mechanism. OMP is an independent Commission and it has been Gazetted under the Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation. The Commissioners of the OMP were recommended by the Constitutional Council and appointed by H.E the President. A survey has been already launched to get comprehensive information on missing persons through ‘Feedback Datasheet Form’ from the family members of the missing persons which are certified by Grama Niladhari (GN), Divisional Secretariat, and District Secretariat administration.

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Further, the delegation was briefed on the reconciliation strategies such as the Policy on national reconciliation; National Reconciliation Action Plan (NRAP); declaration of national integration and reconciliation week; integration friendly schools programme; integration friendly universities and youth programme; integration friendly media programme (peace journalism); establishment of District Reconciliation Committees (DRCs) to address religious and ethnic tensions; Reconciliation focused Economic Empowerment Project (REEP) to promote reconciliation through establishing business linkages between North and South; reconciliation focused 50,000 housing programme for the conflict affected in the Northern and Eastern Provinces; high priority roads and bridges project; other interventions such as Myliddy Harbour development in the Northern Province; establishment of an economic centre in Jaffna linking Dambulla economy centre and other related programmes including school development and improving of hospital development programmes said Mr. V. Sivagnanasothy, Secretary, Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation.

The briefing session also explained that the Sri Lankan reconciliation interventions as a benefactor covers all ethnic and social infrastructure development work focusing vulnerable groups such as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs); refugee returnees; women-headed families; war affected disabled families; rehabilitated ex-combatants; families of the missing persons; and low-income poverty groups.

The Thailand delegation commended the logic of the Nation Reconciliation Action Plan (NRAP) and explained the Thailand interventions such as ‘National Harmony Board’ which focuses on negotiation based settlements to reduce overcrowding of courts and abridge the delays in justice processes.

The discussion was also centred on reconciliation being looked from different angles and perspectives by different stakeholders such as victims, perpetrators, local communities, Government, International communities, Diaspora, and national and international civil society organisations said Mr. V. Sivagnanasothy, Secretary, Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation.

The Thailand delegation also interest in DRCs and demining with special emphasis on developing flexible artificial/prosthetics to augment impaired parts of the body for the war affected disabled. They also expounded that the mutual sharing and learning of experiences on reconciliation interventions will benefit both countries to formulate more result-oriented reconciliation interventions.

From the Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation Mr. V. Sivagnanasothy-Secretary, Mr. Sujan Nanayakkara, State Secretary, Mrs. R.P.R. Amarasinghe- Additional Secretary, Mrs. Vaidehi Anushyanthan-Assistant Director, Mr. Nikarilkanth-Assistant Secretary, Mr. Segar Dhanukshaan – Policy Planning and Coordination Assistant and other officers participated.

The EU/German Governments have extended grant support to the Government of Sri Lanka to Strengthen the reconciliation process in Sri Lanka. The Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation which comes directly under the purview of H.E the President Maithripala Sirisena as Minister is the responsible Executing Agency for the Programme. The launching ceremony took place on 21st March 2018 at Hotel Taj Samudra with the participation of Hon A.H. M. Fowzie State Minister of National Integration and Reconciliation, Mr. Austin Fernando Secretary to H.E the President, His Excellency Tung Lai Margue Ambassador European Union, His Excellency Joern Rhode German Ambassador, Mr.V.Sivagnanasothy, Secretary Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation.

The total estimated cost of Euro (€) 14.5 Mn of which EU contribution was Euro (€) 12.0Mn and the contribution of Republic of Germany amounts to Euro (€) 2.4 Mn and British Council amounts to Euro (€) 0.1Mn.

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The  programme on strengthening reconciliation processes is very much aligned to the government's National Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and the Steering Committee with national representation demonstrate ownership, mutual accountability, and managing for results. The strengthening the reconciliation process broadly has two (2) outputs.

The first output focuses on:

  1. Institutional strengthening. Institutional strengthening includes engagement of schools; universities; media; religious dignitaries, civil society organisations; development of communication and outreach strategy; promote discourse on policy making; facilitate demand driven training and learning and institutionalising monitoring mechanism to track progress on reconciliation through scorecards and reconciliation barometer covering perception surveys.

The second component includes:

  1. Support for non-recurrence pillar. Non-recurrence can be promoted by reducing language barriers through official language skills in public service specially in Divisional Secretariats; Police stations; Court rooms; health clinics etc. Strengthening translators and interpreters and language courses for public servants; psychosocial support; mobile museum and memorialisation; commemorative space; and building trust are equally important to ensure non-recurrence. promoting art and culture and addressing tensions through mediation and negotiations are also effective strategies under this programme.

The project contributes to the SDG goal No.16 which focuses on promoting just, peaceful and inclusive society. The theory of change and the intervention logic are well balanced, but project activities need to be carefully selected to make the desired change said Mr. V. Sivagnanasothy, Secretary, Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation.

Reconciliation and peacebuilding is all about changing the mindsets and pattern of thinking. Inculcating core virtues such as respecting diversity; ensuring equity, inclusiveness and fairness; building tolerance, empathy and trust; developing compassion; believing in justice; standing for yours and others rights; respecting others requires dedicated long-term efforts and not like building roads or houses. However, one should not get disappointed or distracted by few pockets of incidents and understand building trust, mutual respect, tolerance, and empathy requires a committed and dedicated continuous efforts with "can do" spirit. It is envisaged that this grant project will contribute significantly to support the reconciliation and sustainable peace building in Sri Lanka said Mr. V. Sivagnanasothy, Secretary, Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation.

Under the Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation on the direction of the His Excellency the President Maithripala Sirisena Rs. 654 million worth of projects were implemented in newly resettled areas and were officially handed over on 4th and 5th March 2018.

In the Thellipalai Divisional Secretariat division, Thayiddy, Myliddy, Varuthaleivilan, Palali Divisional Secretariat division and in Sundelippai Divisional Secretariat division where the lands were released for resettlement, 19 internal roads have been constructed. Out of these 19 roads, 11 internal roads were opened for public use on 5th March 2018 and total estimated cost is Rs. 51 million said Mr.V. Sivagnanasothy, Secretary Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation.

These internal roads included Palali South housing scheme internal road, Thalaiyady road, Kugan road, Vairavar road, Sivan road, Velan road, port international road, Kalaimahal road, Easwary internal road, Amman internal road, Vinayakar internal road, Koddupulam internal road, Valluvar internal road, Nanmukan internal road, Punnalaikadduvan housing scheme internal road and other internal roads.

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The Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation under its Economic Empowerment programme also supported the livelihood development of the fishing community in the recently resettled areas such as Palai North, Urani, Polikandi, Arali and other locations. Fishery anchorages and landing sites have been constructed at a cost of Rs. 296 million with the 2017 budget allocation. The programme is currently ongoing. Further in Nagarkovill area, 78 fishing outboard engines and in Sandilippai fishining auction centre, fishing net and boats repair centre, fishermen rest room have been constructed and handed over to the fishermen on 5th March 2018 said Mr.V. Sivagnanasothy, Secretary Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation.

In Tellippalai Divisional Secretariat, specially in resettled areas 115 wells have been rehabilitated. In order to improve the health services, Thellippalai base hospital childcare division, maternity division, reproductive divisions have been strengthen with modern medical equipment to the value of Rs.70 million and have been handed over. The cancer hospital has been strengthen with rehabilitation of cancer homes at a cost of rupees 16.2 million and two storied building have been commenced for the construction under 2017 budget initiatives.

With regard to school development, the Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation supported Karaveddi Vedaranya Vidayalaya two story building, Jaffna Vaddu Hindu college computer lab development in 2017 budgetary allocation. These projects will be completed this year. Further, the Jaffna University has been supported with modern technology to produce prosthetics including flexible artificial limbs production at a cost of Rs.9 million said Mr.V. Sivagnanasothy, Secretary Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation.

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