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Floods in Sri Lanka: Hope in Disguise?

(January 22, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Even though more than forty-three people have perished, more than one million have been affected, about a fifth of the rice cultivation has been destroyed, the recent floods in Sri Lanka have presented the country with an opportunity for unity, friendship and reconciliation at a time of sorrow.

The major damage has occurred in the Eastern provinces where the majority is Muslim and Tamil communities; substantially mixed communities in Trincomalee and Amparai have also been affected. If the government and Sri Lankans step in, irrespective of their differences, to help the affected communities, it would greatly strengthen the solidarity of the nation when it is crucially needed.

When the country was torn apart by the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004 the story was completely different. Neither the government nor any other organization knew with any reliable certainty how predominantly Tamil communities in the Eastern and Northern provinces were affected by the Tsunami. The information was so untrustworthy that it was circulated late Mr. Prabakaran and his top deputies were perished in it. The aid and assistance were distributed, for reasons beyond anyone’s control, unfortunately, in the racial lines—the government is taking care of the South and the LTTE, together with the UN and NGO’s, is taking care of North and East.

Within a span of six years, the situation has reversed.

Today, the government is in a position to look after its citizenry within its boundaries, and Sri Lankans are not bound by any racial barrier to help each other unconditionally. This is an opportunity for the Sinhalese to extend their support to Tamils and Muslims. This is an opportunity for the Sri Lankan government to prove to the world and, especially, to its people that it stands by equality in a “one country, one nation.” This is an opportunity for the government to show that they would not let the affected minority populations stay wet, hungry, helpless, homeless and hopeless.

At the Thai Pongal festival in Jaffna President Rajapaksha stressed that everyone is a child of mother lanka irrespective of their race or ethnicity. In these difficult times, we are optimistic that President Rajapaksha would be true to his words.

Sri Lankans for Peace

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