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SL for multi-ethnic tsunami relief body

The new body will be set up to ensure equitable distribution of funds, reports PK Balachanddran. HT Relief Fund
PTI | By PK Balachanddran, Colombo
UPDATED ON JAN 26, 2005 12:25 PM IST

To ensure the equitable distribution and utilisation of millions of dollars of tsunami relief, the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE are exploring the possibility of setting up a multi-ethnic, national and regional decision making body.

Hindustan Times learns that the two sides seem inclined to set up two task forces, one at the national level, and the other at the regional (North Eastern) level.

Both will have representatives of the three major communities in Sri Lanka, namely, the Sinhalas, Tamils and the Muslims.

If an agreement on this does come through, it will have been due to the tireless shuttle diplomacy conducted by the Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister Vidar Helgesen and the Norwegian Ambassador in Sri Lanka.

The need for a new structure had arisen because the minorities, namely, the Tamils led by the LTTE, and the Muslims, were bitterly complaining that government and international relief was not reaching them in an equitable measure.

The Sinhala-dominated south Sri Lanka was getting a disproportionately large amount of relief as compared to the predominantly Tamil-Muslim North Eastern Province (NEP).

The three task forces currently existing at the national level, namely, Task Force for Rescue and Relief (TAFRER), Task Force to Rebuild the Nation (TAFREN) and Task for Logistics and Law and Order (TAFLOL) are not multi-ethnic per se.

TAFRER has no Tamil. None of the task forces has a representative of the Tamil-Muslim dominated North East Province, the most-badly devastated province in the country.

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