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* Sri Lanka's war-torn north is moving forward, but concerns remain - British envoy
Fri, Sep 5, 2014, 05:38 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Sept 05, Colombo: British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, John Rankin, who recently engaged in a visit to the Northern Province, says that the conflict-affected region is moving forward from its difficult past, but some concerns remain.

Rankin made a three-day visit to Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu and Vavuniya in the Northern Province on 1-3 September, 2014.

During his visit the High Commissioner met government and military officials, members of political parties, the police, the British Council, humanitarian organizations and resettled communities.

Commenting on the visit, the British High Commissioner said he was pleased to visit the North again to see for himself the current situation on the ground, the progress that has been made and the challenges that remain.

"I was also happy to meet those involved in addressing concerns and restoring normality to the region," he said.

Rankin said during his discussions, it was clear that the region is moving forward from its difficult past, but some concerns remain.

"I visited the Mullaitivu Hindu Tamil Vidyalam School which I last visited three years ago, and was delighted to see the new buildings being used by their talented students. In Jaffna I met Dr Ravi Pillai, a dual Sri Lankan British National, who is conducting lifesaving heart surgery in the North for the first time."

The British envoy also met several recently resettled families in Puthukudiyiruppu.

"They spoke frankly about the issues their communities face - including a lack of housing and employment. I strongly hope that these communities can live their lives free from reprisals and are able to have their voices heard," he said.

He said the Northern Province is one of the most fascinating places in Sri Lanka, as it rebuilds and rejuvenates itself from its legacy of war.

"It is encouraging to see firsthand the progress made in areas such as demining and resettlement and I welcome the steps taken by the Sri Lankan government in these areas. I also urge the government to continue taking further steps to improve the livelihoods of the people of the Northern Province, address their concerns and allow them to move forward into a brighter future in a stable and peaceful Sri Lanka."

The UK will continue to support government's efforts, the High Commissioner assured.

The High Commissioner visited the offices of the Uthayan newspaper in Jaffna; a demining site operated by The HALO Trust in Muhamalai, supported by the British government; the Oxonian Heart Foundation run by Dr. Ravi Pillai at the North Central Hospital, a Sri Lankan British National; the MAS Active factory in Kilinochchi; and the British High Commission funded community Policing project at the Puthukudiyiruppu police station.

He also met Major General Boniface Perera, Commander of the Security Forces in the Vanni; TNA MP, Sivashakthi Andandan; Mr. N. Vethanayagma, Government Agent of Mullaitivu; and Mrs. Mohanathan, Additional Government Agent of Vavuniya.

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