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Sri Lanka poised to deal with post-conflict tasks, leader tells UN

26 September 2009 – Having recently declared victory in its decades-long conflict with Tamil rebels, Sri Lanka is committed to tackling issues of long-term peace and development, including resettlement of displaced civilians and reconciliation, its Prime Minister said at the United Nations today.

“We have entered a forward-looking, post-conflict phase, recognizing at the same time the urgent need to deal with the scars and unresolved challenges of the past,” Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka told the annual high-level debate of the General Assembly.

In May the Government declared an end to its military operation against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), ending more than two decades of fighting.

Mr. Wickramanayaka said one of the Government’s highest priorities following the end of the conflict has been to meet the immediate needs of the some 280,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) residing in camps in northern Sri Lanka, as well as to ensure their “safe, voluntary and dignified” return to their homes.

“The Government reiterates its firm resolve to resettle the IDPs expeditiously,” he said.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has on several occasions voiced his concern about developments regarding the IDPs, as well as the political process and a possible accountability mechanism for alleged human rights violations committed during the armed conflict.

The Prime Minister acknowledged that “in the aftermath of conflict, peace cannot last without reconciliation,” and said the Government had put in place “a broad and comprehensive foundation” for long-term peace and security encompassing reconstruction, development, political empowerment and reconciliation.

“The end of conflict provides us with a historic opportunity to address the grievances and aspirations of all communities, in expediting a long-term political solution.”

He added that Sri Lanka is committed to complying with its international obligations in the field of human rights and humanitarian standards.

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