Sri Lanka has called for the de-politicization of humanitarian aid and for non-governmental organizations involved in the provision of humanitarian assistance to affected countries be accountable, both financially and in the work that is carried out by them.
Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Ravinatha Aryasinha said the recent phasing down of the operational role of the UNHCR and ECHO and the re-orientation of the ICRC’s activities in Sri Lanka reflect an acknowledgement by the international community of Sri Lanka’s success story in responding to humanitarian situations, both manmade and natural.
Emphasizing that the discourse to establish an international system to address the dire situations and the needs of countries in the aftermath of humanitarian catastrophes is important, he said Sri Lanka takes cognizance of the need to not only address the immediate humanitarian needs in the aftermath of a disaster, but also as to how countries could rebuild the lives of affected people by promoting a recovery that is sustainable and development oriented.
Ambassador Aryasinha said Sri Lanka reiterates its support to the humanitarian assistance guiding principles articulated in GA Resolution 46/182, especially on the full adherence to the humanitarian principles: humanity, neutrality and independence, while engaging in negotiations for and during humanitarian operations. In coordination and implementation of humanitarian assistance, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of concerned states need to be fully respected.
Ambassador Aryasinha recalled that as a country Sri Lanka had not only grappled with a separatist terrorist conflict for almost 30 long years, but also dealt with an unprecedented natural disaster in the form of the Asian tsunami in 2004. Detailing the systems deployed by the government’s Centre of National Operations (CNO) to manage natural disasters, he said the 24/7 operational capacity now allows Sri Lanka to evacuate coastal areas within an hour of a tsunami alert.
He also enumerated the significant strides made by the Government of Sri Lanka over the 4 years since the ending of the terrorist conflict, in re-settling IDPs, de-mining, restoring livelihoods and property of those affected and initiating a program to pay compensation to the conflict-affected residents of Northern Province, who lost loved ones and property and sustained injuries, as part of a process of restitution.