|Security Council Open Debate|
|Monday, 14 February 2011 11:16|
Statement by H.E. Dr. Palitha Kohona
Interdependence Between Security & Development
11th February, 2011 New York
Sri Lanka’s Government recognized very early that security and development went together and was key to countering the security threat posed by the terrorist group, the LTTE. As the UN Secretary-General has said, without development, security would soon become untenable and security was an essential element of development. Recognizing the importance of education in this approach, successive Governments, while maintaining funding for education elsewhere in the country, never reduced the funding and support provided to schools in areas then dominated by the LTTE, despite the consistent threat of children being recruited as child combatants by the terrorist group.
Let me, at the outset, thank you for organizing this timely debate on security and development. We also endorse the Statement made by Egypt on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement. These deliberations, will no doubt, further inform our thinking on this crucial area, and, in our view, is key to addressing security issues. Today’s discussions will help us to expand our focus beyond the Security Council’s primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security.
Once the conflict ended, the Government became even more conscious of the need to expedite development, and paid special attention to rehabilitation and reconstruction. Hundreds of miles of paved roads linking villages to towns were constructed, the national electricity grid was extended to many remote areas of the country, bridges were built and foreign direct investors were encouraged to locate their businesses away from the capital. Special attention is being paid to revive the agriculture, fisheries and tourism of the former conflict affected areas. These efforts are bearing significant results.
The same economic focus has been maintained by the government since the end of the conflict in May 2009. Since the end of the conflict, despite dire predictions of the long term concentration of internally displaced persons in camps, hunger and malnutrition and disease, the government, convinced of the need to restore economic activity in the formally conflict affected areas, has successfully returned 95 percent of the IDPs to their own villages and towns within a very short period. The Government recognized early that keeping the IDPs in camps was a costly proposition, both in dollars and public relations, and that it would be much better to make them economically active in their own villages as early as possible. The Government will continue to provide assistance to these people to resume normal economic activities. There have been no instances of diseases. Malnutrition is no higher among the people who returned to their villages from the IDP camps than in certain other areas of the country and is currently the subject of a broad study. The Government recognizes that problems still remain; while many irrigation canals have been repaired, hundreds of miles of roads have been reconstructed and electricity supplies have been restored or connected, much more needs to be done to restore the lives and livelihoods of the displaced to a reasonable level, including by clearing mines from villages. The unprecedented floods that have inundated the lands of the same unfortunate people have put the clock back on our targets. But Sri Lanka has clearly recognized that economic development is a key to ensuring security, restoring stability and rekindling hope for the future among the conflict affected people.
I thank you, Mr. President.