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Post War Dialogue-English

Post War Dialogue-English

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Published by: Priyanka Tisseverasinghe on Sep 02, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Characteristics, Issues and Challenges inPost-War Conflicting Situation
Sumanasiri Liyanage
(University of Peradeniya)1.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam was comprehensively defeated by security forcesof the Sri Lankan Government (GoSL) by mid-May, 2009. This had become in fact ashock to many conflict resolution experts as well as to NGOs and INGOs. The countriesin the Global North tried their best to postpone the defeat of the LTTE by calling for a‘humanitarian’ ceasefire, but they failed to budge the GoSL from its path of militaryvictory.2.
Military victory was in fact a costly one as its human casualties must have reachedsomething like 25,000. From the beginning of the Eelam War iv in mid-2006 to the defeatof the LTTE in mid May 2009, it was reported that more than six thousand securityforces personal were killed. According to the estimates of the GoSL, the security forceskilled more than 10,000 LTTE cadres during the same period. The usual pattern inmodern wars (‘wars of the third kind’) is that the number of civilian deaths exceeds thenumber of combatants killed in fighting. These figures indicate the level of destruction asa direct result of the Eelam War iv.3.
Armed conflicts may end in many ways. In Sri Lanka armed conflict was temporarilystopped in number of occasions through an agreement between main contending parties,namely, the GoSL and the LTTE. The past governments used the war with the objectiveof weakening the LTTE and pressurising it to come to the negotiation to reach at acompromised negotiated settlement. But none of these attempts were successful due tomultiple reasons. The difference between the present government and the pastgovernments is that the former wanted to defeat the LTTE rather than weaken it. Formany reasons, the strategy became successful.4.
How could the current situation be defined and described? I will call it post-warconflicting situation. War has definitely to come to an end. As the main leadership of theLTTE was physically decimated, there is no possibility of LTTE remobilization or anemergence of new armed groups in the near future. So the current situation isundoubtedly POST-WAR. Does it mean that the national conflict has also come to an end?I answer this question in negative. If the conflicting issues are not satisfactorilyaddressed in coming years, always there is a potential danger of re-emergence of armedgroups and armed confrontations. Hence, although war has come to an end, the latentconflict continues to exist awaiting re-emergence in a future day.
The tasks of the post-war conflicting situation are basically three-fold. These tasks can besequenced as immediate (maximum 180 days), short-term (6 months to 12 months) andmedium term (six months to 18 months).
The Immediate Tasks
The immediate tasks in the post-war conflicting situation include upgrading the IDPcamps to internationally accepted levels by providing food, shelter, clothing, medicalrequirement, and ensuring education of school going age children. Since there is an issueof security of which the state is usually worried about, screening to separate the formerLTTE combatants may be necessary. However, that process should be completed as fastas possible. At the moment, one of the serious issues that is not satisfactorily address isthe provision of adequate sanitary facilities for IDP camps.7.
One of the major flaws in the conventional mechanism of providing humanitarianassistance to IDPs is the conventional mechanism makes IDPs dependent on outsidestructures. So it is imperative to weaken the dependent mentality of the IDPs by makingthem as far as possible empowered. So people in IDP camps should be encouraged toform their own organizational set-up (camp welfare committees) to organize their day-to-day requirement so that their dependent mentality that can be increased by anexcessive involvement of NGOs and INGOs can be gradually reduced. The CWCs candecide what the priority requirements of the camp are. NGOs and INGOs may providenecessary materials and services for the IDPs, but the way they are used should be in thehands of IDPs themselves.8.
It appears some camps are unmanageably large, (for example: Manik Farm). A divisionof large camps into smaller manageable units may be considered.
The Resettlement and Rehabilitation Tasks
IDPs have an absolute right to return back to their villages. So the period of time thatthey are kept in IDP camps should be minimised. As there is a possibility of the presenceof land mines in many villages, removal of mines should be given a priority. As theremay be villages that are free of land mines, those villages can be identified and the IDPswho came from those areas can be resettled soon. In this regard, it would be helpful inpreparing a resettlement map with a time-frame attached to it.10.
In case, the houses that the IDPs used to live were damaged as a consequence of the war,the state should take the responsibility of rebuilding the houses. As far as possible,reconstruction of houses and other public buildings (schools, dispensaries etc) should bedone with the participation and the supervision of respective owners. As proposed byMahinda Chinthanya, a compensation of Rs. 250,000 per family should be paid when theIDPs are resettled so that they could use that money as seed money in re-starting theirlife.11.
Parallel to the resettlement process, re-building of formal and informal local politico-cultural institutional structure should proceed. In this respect, the key institutions

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