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