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The concert by former female combatants at independence day celebrations in Vavuniya


I was in Vavuniya on Independence Day, to join in celebrations at a couple of the Rehabilitation Centres. These had been planned by the officials administering the camps under the authority of the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation, but our Confidence Building and Stabilization Measures Project had assisted with the arrangements. Ironically, the main funding we receive, from UNHCR, cannot be used for these youngsters, just as for some strange reason the World Food Programme does not feed them. Fortunately the government is more enlightened and sees these victims of the LTTE’s forced recruitment as deserving of all possible assistance and encouragement. 

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The inner harbour at Trincomalee

Trincomalee is associated in my mind with two individuals, whose life and work continue to provide guidelines for effort. The first was Denzil Kobbekaduwa, who was in charge of the area when I visited in 1988, to check on the schools furniture project. That was the time of the IPKF, and one could sense some tensions, even though in general officers on both sides behaved with perfect conviviality at army headquarters.

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Those displaced in the eighties finally return to Morawewa

 Trincomalee has always struck me as a magical place, and I have often wondered whether we might not all have been much better off had President Jayewardene moved the capital there rather than ten miles down the road from Colombo to a place that had no merit, even in his eyes, except for its name. And, even if that idea might be fanciful, our failure over nearly half a decade to develop decent communications, to improve connections between the different areas of Sri Lanka, has struck me as a mark of monumental foolishness, which certainly contributed to the spread of resentment and then terror.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

March 2010
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