Driver fails to appear in LTTE 'court'
Nilika de Silva
The driver involved in a fatal accident in Puliyankulam last month, and released on bail by an LTTE 'court', was due to appear once again in the Tiger 'courts' in Kilinochchi on Friday, but failed to do so and the case was postponed for November 8.

The LTTE 'lawyer' retained by the Lanka Private Bus Owners Association (LPBOA) had telephoned from Jaffna on Friday night and informed LPBOA officials that the next date of hearing was November 8.

The driver, Indika Perera (25) was reported to have got frightened by the time he reached Vavuniya and decided not to appear in 'courts', LPBOA sources said.

Perera was produced before an LTTE 'court' and released on Rs. 50,000 bail on September 27, after nine days of detention. He was asked to appear before 'court' on October 18 for the next hearing.

The bus was released to the owner W.A.A. Wasantha on October 1, following the payment of Rs. 100,000 bail.

The Leyland bus carrying 43 passengers was on its journey back from Naga Vihare when it crashed into a van carrying passengers at Puliyankulam. The accident took place around 4.30 p.m. on September 19.

A seven-year-old child was killed in the crash, leading to the arrest of the driver and seizure of the bus by the LTTE.

The next day being a Poya day the driver had to remain with the LTTE 'police' until Saturday when he was refused bail unless he paid Rs. 150,000.

The LPBOA sent a five man team to Kilinochchi to secure the release of the driver and bus involved in the fatal accident.

LPBOA president Gemunu Wijeratne told The Sunday Times, a team of seven representing the LPBOA is once again making preparations to visit Kilinochchi this week to discuss matters regarding the case.

We need to get the Rs. 100,000 released. We will visit the 'courts' and also speak to Kutti, the LTTE officer in charge of transport, he said.

Tamil Alliance flogging PTA removal
The Tamil National Alliance is to meet the Attorney General next week to discuss the PTA following the appointing of a Committee by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to make amendments to its provisions.

The TNA which is lobbying for the repealing of the PTA has called on the Government to withdraw it instead of bringing in amendments. TULF General Secretary R Sampathan told The Sunday Times that TNA is demanding the repeal of the PTA.

' It is an obnoxious law and it should be repealed. We have always stated that the PTA does not serve its purpose. It is a draconian law to suppress human rights. The protest carried out by the prisoners clearly showed this. There were some prisoners who were in custody for 11 years for minor offences," he said.

Meanwhile the Government position is that as terrorism is a global phenomenon, all aspects have to be taken into consideration and as there is no emergency in force, the PTA cannot be withdrawn.

Rs. 81.6 billion required for R and R in North and East
The Government has estimated that it would need Rs. 81.6 billion ( US $ 850 million) for rehabilitation and reconstruction work in the Northern and Eastern provinces.

In a recent assessment of pledges for rehabilitation and reconstruction it has been found that Rs. 48 billion (US $ 500 million) more would be needed to reach the target.
"Mr. Bradman Weerakoon had prepared an assessment which shows a shortfall of around US $500 million to make up an estimated financial need of US $ 850 million," Dr. K.U. Kunasingham, Senior Advisor to the Prime Minister's Office said.

The funding requirement was assessed not only for the North and East but also other areas that have been affected by the conflict such as Moneragala and Puttalam, Secretary to the Prime Minister and Commissioner General for Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconciliation (Triple R) Bradman Weerakoon said.

Meanwhile UNHCR Resident Representative Neill Wright said with humanitarian and developmental agencies already in play, the deficit of funds wasn't a challenge, but the balance between rising needs and available resources to meet them, was of concern.

"The Government of Sri Lanka lacks adequate mechanisms to respond to the increasing needs," he said adding that if this situation was not set right, it could undermine durable solutions for the returning population and sustainable development in the conflict area and risked loss of popular support for the peace process.

UNHCR has called for a needs-based provision of relief activities planned with long term sustainability and development in mind, coupled with closer cooperation to ensure a smooth transition from relief to development.

Accordingly, Sri Lanka has been selected by the Headquarters of the World Bank, UNDP and UNHCR as one of three countries in which all three bodies will work together, along with other stakeholders, on the implementation of the Repatriation, Reconciliation, Recovery and Reconstruction (4Rs) concept. The 4Rs concept is a pilot initiative that is designed to bridge the gap between relief and development. The expectation is that the World Bank, UNDP and UNHCR will expand the 4Rs concept and develop a set of principles in relation to needs in Sri Lanka.

UNHCR said that the relief-development gap was especially pronounced in the immediate transitional phase from conflict to post-conflict situations. The gap undermined potential progress that could be made towards finding and implementing durable solutions for displaced persons and affected communities.

Even with immediate relief activities, the displaced require sustained and formulated reintegration and development support if they are to be given a chance to become productive members of society, UNHCR said.

UNHCR also intends implementing a Supplementary Programme to address four areas of concern - 1) promote and protect rights of returnees, assist IDPs with emphasis on vulnerable and risk groups 2) address immediate humanitarian needs of spontaneous returnees 3) influence policies, improve/protect rights of IDPs, returnees and victims of conflict through capacity building of government institutions and national NGOs and 4) facilitate the stabilisation of returnees and contribute to building a base for economic recovery.

UNHCR plans to implement the programme over a 15-month period from October 1, 2002 to December 31, 2003. Accordingly, the agency is appealing for a Supplementary Programme budget totalling US $ 10,028,010 to support the return of a target beneficiary population comprising 60,000 families (240,000 persons).

Meanwhile Netherlands Ambassador in Sri Lanka Susan Blankhart said the Netherlands Government was giving Sri Lanka a total of 10.5 million Euros of which 50% is to be used for activities in the North and East and the balance for development in the South.

In a bid to meet its deficit, the Government has planned to lobby for immediate funding from donor countries at the aid pledging conference in Oslo on November 25 to be attended by bilateral donors where the Prime Minister and the government delegation to the Thai talks will participate. This will be followed by an extensive pledging conference in Tokyo in March/April.

Addressing the Executive Committee of the UNHCR in Geneva on October 2, Mr. Bradman Weerakoon called for early assistance from the international community to rebuild Sri Lanka.

He gave a briefing to representatives of 61 countries that comprised the ExCom on "Prospects for Solutions for the Uprooted in Sri Lanka."

"The multi-faceted task of rebuilding and reconciling is too large for Sri Lanka to handle on her own," he said.

Meanwhile a Government-LTTE sponsored needs assessment programme is expected to take off from November 1 to identify priorities in the North and East. The configuration of this collaborative effort which is yet to be finalised, is expected to come out with a single plan over a period of six to seven weeks, on the needs in the North and East, Mr. Wright said.

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