21 October, 2020

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International Community Can Learn From Sri Lankan Experience 

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

In October the final consultation of the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) took place in Geneva and brought together nearly one thousand humanitarian workers from all parts of the globe. The holding of the consultation came with the severe crisis that the world faces due to humanitarian catastrophes taking place today which has seen millions of people displaced and on the move. The most violent manifestations of this crisis have come primarily from the Middle East, where a group that uses terror and operates outside of international law, the ISIS is causing havoc and taking over large chunks of territory of formerly sovereign countries and is establishing state-like structures in them.

The consequences of these conflicts in the Middle East have led to a massive wave of migration last seen over seven decades ago during the Second World War with people from formerly prosperous countries such as Iraq, Libya and Syria fleeing their countries by the millions. The media images of people who never thought that their ordered lives would be turned upside down on the run to safety are haunting ones, and have prompted many countries, especially in Europe which had restrictive immigration policies to open up their borders to cope with the humanitarian crisis.

One of the Sri Lankan humanitarian workers at the consultation, Raga Alphonsus, who worked during the war years in Mannar made a presentation that drew much commendation from those who engage directly with refugee populations on the ground. He pointed to the importance of ensuring the dignity of those who had become refugees. He called for sanctions against those organizations that engaged in violating the dignity of people who had been displaced by imposing solutions on them without consulting them. Drawing on his experience in working in the Sri Lankan situation, he said that those who had become refugees needed to be treated with respect, their views obtained, and their solutions taken into consideration.

This aspect of inclusion needs also to be extended to the international community’s efforts to grapple with the world humanitarian crisis. At the consultation in Geneva there was great emphasis given to the need to empower people to cope and recover with dignity through humanitarian action that puts people at its heart and makes them the primary agents of their recovery. This dignifying of people also needs to be promoted through an educational process that is introspective and self-critical. This is especially needed where refugees are resettled in places outside of their home areas where other populations live. There is a need for anti-racism education and campaigns to enable their inclusion in the societies that will need to accommodate them. \

Human Dignity 

However, it was evident at the consultation of the World Humanitarian Summit that the greater emphasis was on the mobilization of financial resources at the level of states and multilateral donor agencies to cope with the refugee crisis. The shortage of finances is a major cause of the stress. Representatives from Pakistan said that their country had been hosting up to 4 million refugees from neighbouring countries including Afghanistan for many years without international attention being focused on their plight and on the need to obtain more financial assistance to support them and ensure their dignity, safety and opportunity to rebuild their lives in a resilient manner.

One of the main issues to be taken up at the World Humanitarian Summit is the issue of mobilizing adequate financial resources. While financial assistance has increased it is not adequate due to the enormity of the need. In 2014, for instance, more financial resources for humanitarian purposes were obtained than ever before in history. But the deficit in the UN’s budget for humanitarian purposes was also the greatest ever. Unfortunately, with tens of thousands of refugees being taken into Western countries which have traditionally been donors to third world countries, the funds allocated to those third world countries, including Sri Lanka, to cope with their own humanitarian problems is likely to get reduced.

This has negative consequences for those countries which have been depending on international support to successfully resolve their own humanitarian problems. It will also make it more difficult to respond to the targets set by the international community, as evidenced in the resolution on Sri Lanka of the UN Human Rights Council. Sri Lanka is particularly unfortunate in this regard, as at the very time it is making the turn to ethnic reconciliation and good governance the externally given financial resources to ease the path of transition are drying up or likely to be withdrawn. This will also make it harder for the government to counter the mounting propaganda by the political opposition that it is on the wrong track in having responded positively to international pressures, such as the recommendations of the UN Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka.

Root Causes 

The importance of addressing the root causes of conflicts that give rise to humanitarian crises was stressed at the World Humanitarian Summit consultation in Geneva. Although many speakers referred to the need for political solutions that would address the humanitarian crises, there was no clear analysis of the political problems that had given rise to the humanitarian crises. The outcome of Western powers seeking to impose their notions of good governance and democracy on societies that are not yet ready for it can be seen in the breakdown of the state and tragedies that have unfolded in the Middle East. At the same time it is necessary to be critical of the violent terror of the ISIS that has been born in the womb of those Middle Eastern societies.

Sri Lanka has an important lesson to offer the international community in regard to the need for self-criticism and introspection. Today it is generally accepted in Sri Lanka that the prolonged ethnic conflict and war, and failure of the former government headed by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, were due to ignoring the root cause of the ethnic conflict and believing that economic development would suffice to pave the way for reconciliation and sustainable peace. By ignoring the need to politically resolve the conflict, the Rajapaksa government alienated the ethnic minorities and totally lost their electoral support.

The recent statement of the TNA leadership which has replaced the LTTE as the representatives of the Tamil people in the negotiation process is an example for Sri Lanka and the international community. The TNA statement has been oft cited, and it is useful to cite again. It said “We also accept and undertake to carry out our responsibility to lead the Tamil people in reflecting on the past, and use this moment as a moment of introspection into our own community’s failures and the unspeakable crimes committed in our name, so as to create an enabling culture and atmosphere in which we could live with dignity and self-respect, as equal citizens of Sri Lanka.”

Any reform that addresses the roots of conflict requires that the people, victims, perpetrators and outside supporters, are brought into the process of change. If they are not brought in, it is more likely than not that they will reject those reforms even though they are in the larger interests of all. The solutions to problems best comes when all sides becomes aware of their contribution to both the problem and its solution. This requires much education work at all levels of society, both national and international, that promotes self criticism and introspection.

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Latest comments

  • 3
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    This man is surely competent to teach the International community about the dung heaps of Sri Lanka!

    • 0
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      Lankawe Sinhala Intellectuals like Jehan PhD are really good in teaching, but extremely poor in learning. Lankawe and Pakistan were the countries leading in the Summit, where a thousand representatives showed up, As per the Jehan PhD. Come on, again comedy thamai. Why the fund is going to dry out and Jehan has to preach couple of times more it to make sure it is still flowing through.

      It is in a tricky way Jehan confusing everybody. The Aid worker from Mannar- I do not know if he is another Jehan PhD when went out there to collect his dues or a real aid worker, wanted dignity to refugees. Who denied it is hidden. Then TNA’s confession shows up again in Jehan crooked easy. Is that Jehan PhD is telling the LTTE imposed its idea’s on Tamils and now TNA who took over leadership and confessed for LTTE. Jehan! sorry please! If that is the case you have to call it defeat Tamil Eelam’s lesson. Not Lankawe’s lesson. Now the the defeated Tamils, Internationally and Internally, has to learn how to advance their course diplomatically, not the World to learn from Tamil Eelam.

      Jehan has got the meaning of the TNA’s statement this time. last time he sincerely thought that is more than enough to close the internationl request to investigate the war time as LTTE has confessed for it. TNA wanted to assure the world that they are not tricky and double talking like Jehan PhD. They wanted to tell world that the Tamils’ new and third path, through Non Obedience, armed struggle to Diplomatic agitation.

      In the past, all over everywhere in CT, there are articles from Jehan criticising TNA for not cooperating with the Old Royala’s Mahindha Chitanta. Now he understands standing on to the Chitanta or Palanaya propaganda no longer good. Money may not flow through. So he is coming back to TNA’s statement as Sri-Lanaka lesson. TNA replacing the LTTE. So the Tamils have given up the call for the liberation and have surrendered to the international pressure.

      Further, in the last article, he claimed the Lankawe has given the opposition to leadership to Sampanthar. Now he has taken it back and shared it between Wimal and Dinesh. His PhD is in being obscure and tricky enough to fool the international funders. Though Wimal and Diesh have taken many steps to give the Sinhala Buddhist their interpretation of the resolution, Ranilpalanaya government has not even turn to the side of telling the Sinhala Buddhist that “whether the war crime was there or not, a sincere investigation is needed after that kind of massive operation. So, there is no harm in foreign judges looking at that and letting their opinion known to Lakawe government. There is no Hero killing or wiping out Mahanama’ Mahavamsa and Legacy of the modern Dudugemunu.

      The first lesson needed is Jehan PhD should stop the double talk. Then Lankawe Sinhala Buddhist will start to learn themselves of self-criticism, which only existing in democratic, free press world, unfortunately not in lankawe where propagandist like Jehan PhDs only thrve as trumpeting themselves as the Magic of Asia.

      • 1
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        Jehan Perera you need to be more critical and analytic and look beyond the humanitarian industry SPIN and advertising and see the corruption that is systemic in the world humanitarian summit and industry which is why the leader an Asian woman had to quit.
        Humanitarianism is a industry worth 26 billion dollars in 2014, head quartered in New York, Geneva and London and distant in mentality and space from affected people and lacking ACCOUNTABILITY to affected people.
        This figure of 25 billion USD represent a 660 percent growth since 2000. Yet, during 2007-2013, less than 2 percent of annual humanitarian assistance went directly to local actors and organizations in disaster affected countries.
        Remember the 2004 tsunami disaster and how most of the money was consumed by international aid givers…Red Cross delayed building houses for year and payed its volunteers 120.000 USD each!
        The humanitarian industry marginalize the agency, resilience, voice of affected people, who are seen to be “end users”. This is despite the fact that first responders who are usually from the affected community or local authorities and government provide the most timely and effective assistance after natural disasters..

        • 0
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          Spot on Dude! The UN and Red Cross etc. are a bunch of greedy while jokers Spinning stories to make money out of mainly brown and black people’s misery!

          Humanitarian disaster capitalism is the name of the game played at the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS)where millions are spent for billions to be raised and spent in New York – Geneva and London while the Middle East and Africa suffers. Thank fully Asians are refusing the and seeing through the AID JOKE!

          Corruption at the highest levels that is SYSTEMIC AND SYSYTEMATIC in the billion dollar Humanitarian Enterprise is why despite all the money there are more people affected by disasters today than ever before.

        • 0
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          JP please read the report on Haiti by Elliott, Justin ProPublica, and Laura Sullivan 2015 “How the Red Cross raised half a billion dollars for Haiti and built six homes: Even as the group has celebrated its work, insider accounts detail a string of failures”.

          https://www.propublica.org/article/how-the-red-cross-raised-half-a-billion-dollars-for-haiti-and-built-6-homes

          Humanitarian Disaster Capitalism is the name of the game being played at the World Humanitarian Summit(WHS) to raise even more money to be spent on the UN and Red Cross ‘experts’ industry..

  • 1
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    “Drawing on his experience in working in the Sri Lankan situation, he said that those who had become refugees needed to be treated with respect, their views obtained, and their solutions taken into consideration”.

    I’m sure that the Tamils who were held captive in the war zone and subsequently liberated through our humanitarian offensive would all agree with the above statement. Especially the respect that was shown to them. Perhaps we should place a notice stating this outside evry army camp in the North. That should provide a good laugh to the local population !!!!!!!!!

    “Sri Lanka has an important lesson to offer the international community in regard to the need for self-criticism and introspection”.

    Surely the author is either having a laugh here or is completely delusional. Six years after the war, several UN resolutions later, and now facing an international hybrid court on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity!!!!!! If we had the ability to be self critical and introspect we wouldn’t be in the horrendous position we are in today!

    “Unfortunately, with tens of thousands of refugees being taken into Western countries which have traditionally been donors to third world countries, the funds allocated to those third world countries, including Sri Lanka, to cope with their own humanitarian problems is likely to get reduced”.

    This is very true.

    However Sri Lanka should also factor in `The Helping Hambantota`(to name one of many) debacle where a prominent politician (and we all know who he is) siphoned of Tsunami Funds. This possibly didn’t go down to well with Western Nations, who are unfamiliar with the high standards of honesty and integrity of our politicians.

    Are these generous Western Nations who helped this Country in its time of need the same Western Nations who we termed Western Scum at the UN because they wanted a credible inquiry at the end of the War?

    Thought so that`ll be our self criticism and introspection cutting in.

    (Ho hum ) XXXXXX

  • 1
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    A lesson too late for the learning.

    One last chance….can we do it this time? and live happily ever after in our island paradise.

  • 0
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    “International Community Can Learn From Sri Lankan Experience”

    Jehan perera you better tell that to your PAY Masters.

  • 0
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    Very true Jehan,

    Weatern Nations can learn, but the Nation of Gonnas cant.

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