Sri Lanka needs space to recover

Referring to the Commonwealth which is headquartered in London, Prof Peiris said it must be remembered that this is a voluntary organisation of 54 member-states with diverse cultures, ethnicities and value systems and that it cannot be a monolith.“If a few member-states attempt to turn such an organisation into a political tool in pursuit of their own agendas, it would not only damage the ethos that the Commonwealth represents but also threaten the very future of the organization,” he said. “These challenges cannot be answered and resolved overnight. They take time and a nation needs space to do so. Sri Lanka is urging that it be given the time and space,” the minister said. Destroyed infrastructure had to be rebuilt and the government invested enormous funds to resuscitate the economy of the war- ravaged areas so that the people would have a means of livelihood for them and their families, the Minister said. (Colombo Gazette) He also said that Sri Lanka is ready and willing to work with the international community to achieve these ends but it cannot be achieved if its efforts at peaceful resolution of its problems are met with constant vilification and castigation by a few in the international community. The Minister stressed that no other country that has emerged from years of internecine strife and terrorism has achieved what Sri Lanka has done in such a short time.He said that the country faced tremendous multiple challenges. Among these challenges was to provide food, shelter and medicines for nearly 300,000 persons displaced from the conflict areas. There were thousands of ex-combatants who had to be rehabilitated and returned to society. There were child soldiers of the LTTE who had to be helped and returned to their families.In addition there were hundreds of thousands of mines and other explosive devices that had to de-activated and removed so that displaced persons could return safely to their former homes and the land put to productive use. The government says Sri Lanka needs time to return to normalcy after nearly three decades of  terrorism and secessionist war.A statement by the External Affairs Ministry quoted Minister G.L Peiris as saying that the reconciliation and rehabilitation is a slow process as other countries that have gone through similar experiences will understand and appreciate. read more