Friday, 6 June 2008

Tragedy in Sri Lanka - again

One of the most important meetings I had in Brussels this week was with Mr Andrea Nicolaj who works for the Commission in the "Relations with Sri Lanka" team. I had a number of matters I wanted to bring to his attention including the most pressing issue in Sri Lanka, the 25 year old civil war.

That war between the Government and the Tamil Tigers, has torn the country apart, costing billions of pounds that could and should have been spent on relieving Sri Lanka of its "developing country" status. More importantly it has cost them tens of thousands of human lives and left a nation in despair with no hope of an end in sight.

What I wanted to know from the European Commission was what efforts were being made by them to facilitate peace negotiations. Since the official end of the ceasefire and the departure of the Norwegians who were the main peace negotiators, the violence has been relentless and many Sri Lankans feel forgotten by the international community.

This morning's bomb blast sent shivers down my spine. Many of my friends are still working out there and living in Colombo where today's attack happened. When I was living there we were instructed not to use public buses because they are always targets. But sometimes it's hard not to do so and difficult to believe you, personally, are in any danger. And, far more importantly, for most Sri Lankan people living and working there, they have no choice, they simply have to take the risk! So far 22 people have died in today's rush hour bus attack, more than 50 have been injured.

And all of this at a time when Sri Lanka is suffering terrible monsoons that have seen 350,000 people displaced and 19 dead this week. All of this when they are asking the international community to send aid to cope with this natural disaster. Think how well they'd fend for themselves if less was spent on fighting this violent war.

This is a country of incredibly warm welcoming people who do not deserve to live with this terrible stress and grief. The official at the European Commission assured me they are making overtures to set up new peace negotiations but that right now, neither the Sri Lankan government nor the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) are open to any kind of negotiations.

I would say (and did say) that we have to redouble our efforts because people in Sri Lanka are losing hope. We all live in this world, we in the developed world certainly benefit from the developing world so it is our absolute duty to help them when they need it the most and today's bomb, the latest in a long line, tells me they need us now!

2 comments:

JG said...

I have a daughter and granddaughter in Sri Lanka. I have been frantically searching the internet for facts and information from tourists, or anyone other than a native to the county that may tell me a bit about Sri Lanka. I found your blog and I have to say it really moved me. I would like to speak with you if you have a few moments on the internet for me. I would really appreciate it.

Indygal said...

Happy to. My email is annemclaughlin3@googlemail.com - just drop me a line and give me your email or msn.