The people of Sri Lanka need lasting solutions. They need a marked shift from the ways of the past in order to secure a hopeful future for all. Geneva presents a point of opportunity to change the destiny of Sri Lanka; a chance to move the nation onto a path of what is actually possible through the service of leaders committed to upholding the rights, interests and dignity of every Sri Lankan. In the aim of finding solutions that build confidence and hope in the process of peace on behalf of all Sri Lankans, the humanitarian community has recently completed a national consultation with a wide variety humanitarian agencies. It focuses on the most pressing issues hindering humanitarian actors from contributing to this aim and providing their service to the people.
In consultation with staff and project beneficiaries, agencies working throughout Sri Lanka have identified and cited the greatest constraints that hinder humanitarian relief within their respective organizations. This survey has been compiled, synthesized and further reviewed electronically by agencies as well as in forum discussions. This process has been facilitated by the Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies (CHA).
The consultation highlighted a host of issues. The briefing seeks to highlight just three of these pressing issues in the form of submissions. We view these issues as keys to improving the daily living conditions for the most vulnerable citizens of Sri Lanka. Moreover, these issues have significance with regards to the peace process and sustainable development as perceived by a collective of Sri Lanka's humanitarian community. The issues are:
Respect for civilian neutrality and rights
Implement the outcome of Geneva talks in good faith
Space for humanitarian agencies and security of staffWe wish to draw attention to these three issues so that the GoSL and LTTE, with the support of the people of Sri Lanka and the international community, would combine their efforts around our concerns to formulate and implement workable solutions. Both the GoSL and LTTE, in the past, have accorded priority and special attention to humanitarian needs of the people. In keeping with this our belief is that all sides will seek solutions to these issues in order to assist our efforts to serve all Sri Lankans.
The humanitarian community of Sri Lanka is committed to the nation's people and in our efforts to continue providing assistance to the poorest and most vulnerable in society. As a vibrant, yet diverse sector, we comprise numerous community-based organizations (CBOs), national and international non-governmental organizations (I/NGOs), all united by a common vision: to work for poverty alleviation and sustainable development for all -- regardless of gender, religion or ethnicity (race).
Unresolved political issues and civil unrest has hindered our efforts of achieving sustainable development in Sri Lanka. Decades of conflict and manmade turmoil has had a heavy social and economic impact on the nation. Unexploded ordinances mar the landscape depriving people from continuing their livelihoods, which in turn increase economic disparities and growing pockets of deprivation. Thousands of internally displaced people continue to live in camps and temporary shelters. Reoccurring acts of violence carried out by various groups thrust people towards ethnic violence and a potential resumption of war.
We, the humanitarian community of Sri Lanka, extend our support at this time to the Geneva participants as they work toward resolutions on behalf of the people.