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  1. The government has agreed to receive a delegation by the Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to  offer “advice and technical assistance” to implement the US-backed resolution on Sri Lanka.  Does not that signal a change in the previously stated position of the government? (The government, earlier, rejected the UN resolution and External Affairs Minister G L Peiris said that the government had ‘taken a decision not to abide by the resolution irrespective of the result.’)

 You must ask the Ministry of External Affairs about the relationship between the various pronouncements spokesmen in this regard have made. As I have said before, there is a lack of professionalism in the way that particular agency of government works, as exemplified most recently in the manner in which it reacted to the email about which our former Representative, Tamara Kunanayagam, wrote to the Office of the High Commissioner. Though I gathered from Ms Kunanayagam that the President had been concerned about this email, the Ministry of External Affairs concentrated on letting Ms Kunanayagam down and forgot all about the email, and its contents.

I was in fact astonished to find that they had not even bothered to find out who the people were who had been acting as agents provocateurs and clearly exceeding their briefs. We know for instance who Cynthia is, and Chritoff Heyns is given his full name and designation. But can you understand a Ministry supposed to be in charge of External Relations that has not even bothered to think about who Richard and his team might be, who seem to have been busily preparing the ground for the Resolution that the Ministry tried to oppose in Geneva?

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Amongst the suggestions made at recent Reconciliation meetings in the North was that Divisional Secretaries should prepare systematic schedules of assistance that has been received in each Grama Niladhari Division in vital areas such as housing and livelihood. The first such returns have now come in, and will provide a useful planning tool for helping to ensure that assistance is supplied in the future to where it is most needed.

I am however also indebted to the Divisional Secretary of Vavuniya Town for initially adding on a page on Child Protection work, since that is an area of particular concern, and should be all over the country. Prominent on this page, in addition to Divisional Child Development Committees, were Children’s Clubs, which had only recently come to my attention. This was because, when I was looking through the schedule of aid projects, in a massive document that dealt with all projects in the North, I found several relating to the establishment of Children’s Clubs, with tiny amounts spent in each area, expenditure about which the Divisional Secretary concerned had no idea at all. This suggested that such projects were not especially useful, but when I questioned them I was told by the head of the National Child Protection Authority, which has been instrumental in promoting some packages that included these projects, that such institutions were essential.

They provided a forum for those concerned with the welfare of children to meet, and discuss problems and try to provide solutions. Such coordination it seemed had not been common previously. Indeed I noted that the membership did not in all places include all relevant personnel, but at least a start had been made in bringing together officials such as school Principals and Public Health Inspectors with members of Rural Development Societies and other community based organizations. Officials such as the Police and Child Protection and Samurdhi Officers were also included in different areas, and members of the crucial but much neglected profession of pre-school teachers. I was also glad that the unit of responsibility was the Grama Niladhari Division, since that is the best way of ensuring a sense of responsibility, although, as the reports noted, problems of any degree would need to be referred to the next level up. This is the Divisional Secretariat, which has better access to professional support services.I am however also indebted to the Divisional Secretary of Vavuniya Town for initially adding on a page on Child Protection work, since that is an area of particular concern, and should be all over the country. Prominent on this page, in addition to Divisional Child Development Committees, were Children’s Clubs, which had only recently come to my attention. This was because, when I was looking through the schedule of aid projects, in a massive document that dealt with all projects in the North, I found several relating to the establishment of Children’s Clubs, with tiny amounts spent in each area, expenditure about which the Divisional Secretary concerned had no idea at all. This suggested that such projects were not especially useful, but when I questioned them I was told by the head of the National Child Protection Authority, which has been instrumental in promoting some packages that included these projects, that such institutions were essential.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

August 2012
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