Posted on September 27th, 2009

By Walter Jayawardhana

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka promised anew that his government would quickly re-settle all the civilians in the country’s IDP welfare camps but he said the country cannot risk its hard won security from terrorism by being negligent of terrorist combatants hiding among the civilians.

He was addressing the United Nations general assembly sessions in New York on September 26.

Wickramanayaka told the UN the top priority of his government was to meet the humanitarian needs of the nearly 290,000 Tamil civilians who were freed from decades long hold of the separatist terrorists, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

He pointed out that the resettlement of the civilians will be carried out with Sri Lanka’s international partners.

But he said, “the stability and security that we have restored at great human cost cannot and must not be compromised, particularly when a large number of self-confessed ex-LTTE cadres continue to mix with the IDPs (internally displaced persons).”

“We have entered a forward-looking, post-conflict phase, recognizing at the same time the urgent need to deal with the scars and unresolved challenges of the past,” Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka told the annual high-level debate of the General Assembly.

In May the Government declared an end to its military operation against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), ending more than two decades of fighting.

Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka said one of the Government’s highest priorities following the end of the conflict has been to meet the immediate needs of the some 280,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) residing in camps in northern Sri Lanka, as well as to ensure their “safe, voluntary and dignified” return to their homes.

“The Government reiterates its firm resolve to resettle the IDPs expeditiously,” he said.

The Prime Minister acknowledged that “in the aftermath of conflict, peace cannot last without reconciliation,” and said the Government had put in place “a broad and comprehensive foundation” for long-term peace and security encompassing reconstruction, development, political empowerment and reconciliation.

“The end of conflict provides us with a historic opportunity to address the grievances and aspirations of all communities, in expediting a long-term political solution.”

He further said that Sri Lanka is committed to complying with its international obligations in the field of human rights and humanitarian standards.

In his address, Mr Wickramanayaka also urged the international community to crack down on ‘the so-called overseas representatives of the LTTE and their front organizations’ who procured ‘funds and arms through a complex range of criminal activities,’ including terrorist financing, money laundering, drug and human trafficking.

‘Although we have been successful in defeating terrorism in Sri Lanka, we continue to urge our friends and partners in the international community to be vigilant and to continue to take action against the illegal acts of the LTTE on their soil,’ he noted.

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