Sri Lanka has done the best job in the world of resettling internally displaced persons (IDPs) and rehabilitating militant youth, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said on Friday.
"What we have achieved in terms of rehabilitation of those misled youth, and the resettlement of the IDPs, is far superior to any such exercise anywhere in the world," Rajapaksa told at a business conference related to the ongoing International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards.
Rajapaksa’s views on resettlement were echoed by former minister of external affairs and Congress MP, Shashi Tharoor. Tharoor commended Sri Lanka’s efforts in resettlement and rehabilitation. He added that India also wants proper rehabilitation for the displaced.
Around 30000 IDPs had come out of areas earlier controlled by the Tamil Tigers to government-controlled camps during the last months of the civil war, which ended in May 18. Since the last part of 2009, majority of the displaced were rapidly released but thousands still remain.
Another 11000 LTTE cadres were also detained by the government who were then released in batches.
Friday’s conference -- jointly organised by Indian and Sri Lankan Chambers of Commerce -- was attended by a group of small Indian enterprises largely from New Delhi.
Rajapaksa stressed on the importance of development and peace. "We strongly believe that to bring permanent peace there must be development. As I have often said, there is no peace without development, and no development without peace," Rajapaksa said.
“Those of you who are keen to explore, will find abundant opportunities for investment in Sri Lanka. The scope is immense: from infrastructure, to agri-business, to manufacturing and to a range of services," he said.
Rajapaksa said: "The relationship between Sri Lanka and India has been anchored in a rich heritage and is irreversible… we are now adding new spice to our relations with India and the world, with new and varied business opportunities."