28th April 2003

Mr. S.P. Tamilchelvan,
Head of the LTTE Delegation to SIHRN

Dear Mr. Tamilchelvan,

Your letter dated 23rd April reached us while the Government delegation was preparing itself to attend the meeting of the Sub-Committee on Immediate Humanitarian and Rehabilitation Needs (SIHRN) scheduled for 25 and 26 April.

In fact, the key issues highlighted in your letter had been included in the proposed agenda for the scheduled meeting. The Government delegation, which met for a pre-SubCommittee meeting, had already decided to propose alternative approaches to overcome the temporary constraints facing SIHRN. We were expecting to discuss these approaches with your delegation during the scheduled meeting.

I am confident that you are fully aware of the reasons for the delay in finalizing the agreement with the World Bank relating to the North-East Reconstruction Fund (NERF), and that the Government is in no way responsible for that delay.

Over the last few weeks the Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP) had been in contact with the World Bank office in Colombo on a regular basis with a view to expediting the resolution of outstanding issues. The World Bank has assured us that all agreements pertaining to the establishment and operation of the North-East Reconstruction Fund (NERF) would be completed within several weeks.

The Government shares the sentiments expressed by the LTTE in this regard and is sensitive to the fact that donor contributions already committed to the NERF cannot be disbursed for projects approved by the Sub-Committee. In regard to this, the Government delegation, after extensive deliberation, had formulated an interim measure to enable the commencement of approved projects. These measures were to be discussed with you at the Sub-Committee meeting, which has been postponed. In light of this situation, we have requested the facilitator, the Royal Norwegian Government, to brief you on this proposal.

You would appreciate the fact that a considerable number of projects would have been approved by SIHRN, had the meeting took place as scheduled. As the meeting has now been postponed, may I suggest that we jointly request Director SIHRN to go ahead with the preparation of estimates etc., in respect of those projects, so that all preliminary arrangements would be in place for them to take off the ground no sooner receiving the approval of the Sub-Committee.

In relation to your comments regarding urgent action on resettlement of internally displaced persons and refugees, may I point out that the formulation of the Accelerated Resettlement Programme for the Jaffna District and the Resettlement Programme for the Mannar District, by the SIHRN Secretariat in collaboration with UNHCR, have been completed and was awaiting a decision at the next Sub-Committee meeting.

On the pledges made by donor community at the Oslo Donor Conference in November 2002, the Director General, Department of External Resources has contacted the relevant donor countries to ascertain specific information on the quantum of funds they wish to provide to NERF. However, the postponement of the Sub-Committee meeting has caused the donor community to raise questions about the resolve of SIHRN to pursue rehabilitation activity, which is likely to cause further delays in securing funds. The Government, while regretting this development, will do everything in its power to persuade the donor community to make available resources already committed by them to SIHRN to continue its humanitarian and rehabilitation work.

Yours sincerely,

Bernard A.B. Goonetilleke
Head of the Government Delegation to SIHRN

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