Rankin notes ‘continuing challenges’ after visit to Jaffna

Friday, 21 February 2014 00:50 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • British Envoy discusses IDPs, sexual violence, land issues and militarisation in Northern Province on 2-day visit
British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka John Rankin concluded a visit to the formerly-embattled Jaffna District yesterday, noting continuing challenges in the region with regard to displaced persons, sexual violence and land issues, the High Commission said. The High Commissioner said that his two-day tour was one of the many visits he makes around the country to see the situation on the ground. “We noted the continuing challenges – including finding a durable solution for the remaining IDPs – and heard about the problems faced by single women and women heads of households, including from sexual violence. We discussed land issues in the north, including the High Security Zones (HSZs) and the role and level of military presence,” Rankin noted. The High Commissioner said this team had also met with the Chief Minister and the Northern Governor on how the Northern Provincial Council can function more fully. “Nobody to whom I spoke wished a return of LTTE terrorism. And nor, emphatically, do we want to see that happen again,” Rankin said. The delegation had highlighted in all their discussions the continued importance of addressing issues of accountability, the vital importance of pursuing long-term reconciliation and the need for respect for human rights, he added. “We believe that positive developments in these areas will contribute to peace and prosperity for all the people of Sri Lanka,” the High Commissioner said following his visit. The British High Commissioner was accompanied by a senior official from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London and representatives of the High Commission in Colombo. During his visit to the north, High Commissioner Rankin met with Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) at the Sabapathypillai welfare village – whom the British Prime Minister David Cameron also met in November last year – to make a contribution of books to the children’s nursery at the village. He also called at the Jaffna Library and made a donation of over 150 children’s books, gifted by Number 10 Downing Street, the High Commission said in a statement. During his visit, the High Commissioner met a variety of individuals and groups, including the Chief Minister of the Northern Province, Justice C.V. Wigneswaran; the Security Forces Commander, Maj. Gen. Udaya Perera; the Jaffna Governor, G.A. Chandrasiri, members of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and Members of Parliament; members of the Northern Provincial Council; international agencies working in the area; and civil society, the High Commission noted.