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Assisting Development In Sri Lanka

Assisting Development In Sri Lanka

U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert Blake says the United States “remains deeply committed to continue our assistance to Sri Lanka to enhance economic development, help recover from the [2004] tsunami, and work with Sri Lanka on a durable solution to the ethnic conflict that has held back progress” for more than two decades.

Since 1956, the United States has provided nearly two billion dollars in development assistance to Sri Lanka, including one-hundred-thirty-four million dollars to help Sri Lankans recover from the devastating tsunami of December 2004. The U.S. is undertaking several reconstruction projects, including construction of a new bridge over Arugam Bay, the upgrade of three damaged fishing harbors, and the construction and rehabilitation of ten vocational education schools.

The U.S. is also assisting the Sri Lankan government in efforts to improve democratic processes, encourage transparency, curb corruption, and develop rural areas.

“No amount of development assistance by the United States or any other donor can have any lasting impact,” says Ambassador Blake, “without finding a permanent solution to the conflict that has plagued Sri Lanka for more than twenty-five years.” Since 1983, more than sixty-thousand have died and about one-million others have been displaced in fighting between the insurgent Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or Tamil Tigers, and the Sri Lankan government. “The negative consequences of continued conflict,” says Mr. Blake, “include direct costs such as the higher military and relief expenditures . . .the infrastructure that must be replaced,” and “high indirect costs such as income lost from forgone public investment, reduced tourist arrivals, reduced foreign direct investment, and the high costs of supporting internally displaced people.”

In the north and east of Sri Lanka, as many as two-hundred-thousand people have been displaced in the last twelve months, and the United Nations estimates that twice that number could eventually become homeless if hostilities continue.

U .S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert Blake says “the United States attaches great importance to our partnership with Sri Lanka,” and hopes “Sri Lanka will seize the opportunity to forge a power-sharing proposal that can form the basis for talks with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam that could finally bring an end to conflict in Sri Lanka.”