National Peace Council Press Release: Government-LTTE Cooperation Essential to Deliver Relief and Reconstruction to North East Victims

The tidal waves that suddenly struck the north, east and south of the country without forewarning have left the coastal areas devastated with the death toll topping ten thousand and a displaced population of over two million. The National Peace Council condoles with those who have become victims as a result of this natural disaster. The spontaneous outpouring of public assistance to the victims will be one sign of solidarity and hope to the victims. The response of those in positions of authority to this crisis will be of the utmost importance in assuring Sri Lankans of all ethnic communities that this is a country in which people are cared for and protected equally.

The northern coastal areas of Jaffna, down the eastern sea board to the southern and western parts of the island have been devastated by the tidal waves with most of the deaths reported from the north and east. Information from the LTTE-controlled areas is that of an immense human tragedy with villages swept away without trace and thousands of deaths. LTTE political leader SP Thamilselvan has disclosed that for a beginning 800 bodies had been recovered. As the LTTE-controlled areas are amongst the most war destroyed and poverty stricken parts of the country, it is likely that people living there had very little protection from the ravages of the tidal waves.

The National Peace Council believes that in any major relief effort that is meant to cover all affected areas in the northeast, it is important that the LTTE be brought in as a major actor. In addition the LTTE should be prepared to work with the government in the areas it controls. This calls for a new flexibility on both sides. Comparative international experience suggests that natural calamities offer potential for the establishment of interim structures to meet the humanitarian needs of the people. Addressing the urgent needs of the people needs to be given first place. The dispute over power sharing between the government and LTTE must not impede the relief and rehabilitation efforts.

Sometimes answers to problems that cannot be worked out in theoretical discussions can get sorted out in practical realities. The international community has granted a substantial amount of relief assistance that would need to be delivered in an effective manner to the needy people. These funds and material need to find new mechanisms to deliver them to the affected people. We appeal to the government and LTTE to trust and respect each other's commitment to the best interests of the people they both seek to serve. We call on them to cooperate with each other in this time of unprecedented human tragedy to meet the humanitarian needs of the flood affected people.

Media Director
National Peace Council of Sri Lanka
12/14 Purana Vihara Road
Colombo 6
Tel: 2818344, 2854127, 2819064
Fax:2819064
E Mail: peace2@sri.lanka.net
Internet: www.peace-srilanka.org

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