The newly-arrived chief of the United Nations in Sri Lanka is making his second familiarisation visit to the north of the country and says that there are many encouraging and notable signs of progress but substantial challenges remain ahead to improve the lives of those affected by the conflict.
The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sri Lanka, Subinay Nandy, arrived in Jaffna on Wednesday, visited Mullaitivu District on Thursday and is travelling in Kilinochchi on Friday where he will finish his three-day mission. He visited Vavuniya District in mid-July.
“Listening and talking to people in the post-conflict area is very important to me to gain a real understanding of the situation and needs. The UN agencies are working in many different areas to meet the still ongoing humanitarian as well as the more long-term development needs,” Mr. Nandy said.
Mr. Nandy said that resettlement, reconciliation and longer term development need to go hand-in-hand to provide a durable foundation for a sustained improvement in people’s lives in the area and efforts need to continue for this.
During his mission Mr. Nandy visited Jaffna and the recently resettled areas in Tellipalai as well as Puthukkudiyiruppu in Mullativu, where some communities had only returned this week.
He saw first-hand a variety of UN humanitarian and development projects for housing, agriculture, health and livelihoods as well as meeting the Governor for the Northern Province, Major General GA Chandrasiri, and other key government and military officials, the UN team and NGO partners. On Friday in Kilinochchi District, Mr. Nandy is scheduled to visit various housing, agricultural and health projects.
“So far, I have been struck, particularly in the recently resettled areas, by the great desire and determination of people to restart their lives and get back to some kind of normality. But, there remain gaps and a lack of facilities, livelihood opportunities and adequate capacities for a well-functioning civilian administration.”
The situation of displaced people in Menik Farm from Mullaitivu whose areas of origin were not yet tasked for demining and could not return to their homes in the immediate future was of concern, Mr. Nandy said.
“I am looking forward to hearing from the Government the future plans for these people and we want to work with them so this group of displaced can begin to look forward to the future with some certainty and have a durable solution to their plight,” he said.
Mr. Nandy said the United Nations was working with the Government to improve lives in the north, but he noted that funding from donors for Sri Lanka was decreasing. The UN-Government Joint Plan of Assistance, launched in February this year, is only 23 percent funded, he noted. (Asiantribune.com)