Ottawa adds $15-million in aid to Sri Lanka.
Posted on August 9th, 2009

Noor Nizam  and Hasaka Ratnamalala CANADIAN FRIENDS OF SRI LANKA.

The announcement made by Hon. Minister of International Cooperation Beverley Oda in Colombo on Friday the 7th., and published via the international wire services datelined Colombo is most welcome and will be seen as a sincere move by Canada to support and help the Sri Lankan government to help ease the issues, of specially the nearly 300,000 persons temporarily living in the IDP camp in the North and who have been promised to be resettled in their own villages within a 180 days time frame.

The Canadian Friends of Sri Lankan were deeply concerned about the ongoing humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka,” both during the period of the intense conflicts running up to the defeat of the LTTE in May 2009 and in the post victory senario following that in the Wanni. It was warmth news to learn that the Hon. Berverley Oda was fully informed of the real situation in the Wanni and the IDP camps by Hon.Deepak Obhrai, Parliamentary Secretary to the Foreign Affairs Minister after his visit to Sri Lanka July 5th., – 7th., 2009 which was followed by the recent visit by Hon. Berverley Oda where the Hon Minister of International Cooperation of Canada made a public statement that the Hon. Minister,during her recent visit to the displaced persons camps in Vavuniya, witnessed the need of those who are living there.

“I was very encouraged by what I saw at the camps,” Ms. Oda said. “This is not an ideal situation but considering the situation I would say that in partnership with the international organizations, the Government of Sri Lanka is making very good efforts to meet the basic needs.”

The Canadian Friends of Sri Lanka have voiced this concern and the realities that the Government of Sri Lankan and the authorities are in fact really doing their best in these issues, but needed the support of the international community to support the endeavours towards a humnaitarian fulfillment.

At the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs April the 1st., 2009, as witnesses, representatives of the Sri Lankan Canadian Diaspora, specially from SLUNA the Canadian Friends of Sri Lanka supporting these views, vehemently advocated addition Canadian funding towards helping the vulnerable IDP’s in the Wanni. Though Canada, through CIDA has been allocating humanitarian funds to the tune of  $ 7.1 million since April 2009 for this purpose, it has been informed to the FAAE as well as to those concerned that nearly nothing of these funds have in reality reached the IDP’s, rather the little humanitarian reach outs that were directed to the IDP’s in the form of medications via the Sri Lankan authorities and other gifts of kind have only reached the IDP’s in the camps in the Wanni.

It is the opinion of the Canadian Friends of Sri Lanka, that the present additional funds of $ 15.5 announced by Hon. Minister of International Cooperation Beverley Oda in Colombo on Friday the 7th., should only be released to the Canadian non-governmental organizations, including CARE, Oxfam Canada and World Vision Canada after a proper financial audit is undertaken to acertain the dispersement of the earlier funds that have been allocated to these NGOS since February/May 2009. A total of nearly $ 7.1 million of Canadian taxpayers contributions have already been dispersed to Canadian NGO’s supposeed to be working in Sri Lankan to help the IDP’s and the vulnerable. Some of the funding have been dispersed since February 2009 are as follows: The aid consisted of a $1 million grant to the International Committee of the Red Cross, and $500,000 grants to each of Oxfam Canada, MƒÆ’†’©decins Sans FrontiƒÆ’†’¨res, World Vision, and CARE Canada.

As a matter of priority, Canada should look at the realities of the issues and not follow a sterotyped humanitarian aid assistance program that is inbuilt within the CIDA system, rather take a innovative and proactive approach in the reach outs. Sri Lanka is much in need of landmine clearing to clear the villages of hundreds of thousands of landmines that have been and were burried in the most inhuman, cruel violent confrontations between the LTTE and the Security Forces respecting humanitarian criteria during the peak of the conflict. It will be adviceable for Canadain Aid to assist Sri Lankan authorities, Mine Clearing NGO’s and even promote Canadian Mine clearing NGO’s the likes of CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DEMINING CORPS LTD (CIDC) an NGO from Nova Scotia to be engagede in assisting the clearing of the landmines in the villages of the Wanni. This will make it possible for the IDP’s to return to therir original inhabitations within the 180 days time line promised by the Government of Sri Lanka and much awaited by the international Human Rights Organization Internationally and the UN organizations.

What Canada has to do is to fund the purchasing of mechanical land mine clearing machines and equipments such as the MineWolf which can assist Sri Lanka mine clearing operations on a fast track basis. This machine/system is capable of clearing up to 30,000 msquare meters of mined lands in a day. The cost will only be in the region of $ 500,000 per machine/system.

Canadian Friends of Sri Lanka strongly recommends this option to the Government of Canada, CIDA, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Ministry of International Cooperation.

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