Book aid to
rebuild Jaffna library
Neville de Silva in London
The prestigious Jaffna library that was largely
destroyed 20 years ago will be ready for opening when it is rebuilt
by the end of this year.
Jayawardena, Minister for Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Refugees
said here that the reconstruction of the building itself was nearing
He said that
several foreign sources including Tamil Nadu, China and Sri Lankan
expatriates had so far promised to provide books to the library.
library, considered one of the best in the East for Tamil studies,
was set on fire during the Jaffna District Council elections some
20 years ago and some of its best collections were totally destroyed.
act of arson was roundly condemned by academics and others aware
of the value of this library which contained some rare volumes.
was in London to receive an honorary professorship of the Irish
International University awarded this year for his "dedication
to peace and his personal involvement in human rights and political
The Sunday Times before accepting the award at a ceremony at Imperial
College, London, the minister said he was happy over the news coming
out of the peace talks in Thailand between the government and the
very happy that the LTTE has indicated it will abandon its demand
for a separate state", the minister said.
particularly happy because I have gone to these war affected areas
and have been working there over the past seven years".
not a minister then and I did not receive any help from the then
government of President Chandrika Kumaratunga.In fact I was abused
for trying to help these people".
minister was certain that the LTTE is now committed to peace and
Anton Balasingham's comment that they were dropping the demand for
Eelam was a clear sign of this.
they are committed to peace now and I'm very happy about it".
He said that
as the minister in charge of rehabilitation and resettlement, he
had an enormous task before him.
He had set
a target to settle 200,000 families displaced by war, in the next
This is only
one part of a major problem, he said. Over 200,000 homes have been
destroyed in the North and East, many public buildings and schools
have been destroyed, some one million people are internally displaced
and 66,000 persons are in refugee camps in India.
are the 30,000 or so women who have been widowed.
have sought asylum abroad.
believes his immediate humanitarian task is quick impact projects
-that is providing mobile medical clinics, dry rations, de-mining
and rebuilding roads.
The rehabilitation of the North and East will cost something like
US$ 500 million according to his estimate.
there were still problems to be sorted out and complaints from Tamils
themselves at having to pay taxes and duties to the LTTE.
But, he says,
people and goods are moving in both directions and slowly confidence
is being built.
say peace has come. There are shortcomings and delays. I don't want
to hide that. But we have to accept these difficulties and work
to eliminate them".
gave us a mandate to bring about peace. On that we are moving with
the people. We will not hide anything from the people". He
said no time frame can be set to achieve a durable peace because
it is not an easy goal to reach.