UN to follow 'colour blind' policy
Human tragedy and not a Tamil,
Sinhalese or Aceh (Indonesia) tragedy: Money no issue
By Faizal Samath
The World Bank yesterday strongly urged the Sri Lankan
government to ensure equal treatment to all communities including
those living in LTTE-controlled areas in disbursing relief and other
President James D. Wolfensohn told a media conference, soon after
joining UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in visiting devastated parts
of Sri Lanka, that the World Bank and the UN will follow a "colour
blind" approach in helping Sri Lanka and other tsunami-affected
about relief and rehabilitation in LTTE-controlled areas, Wolfensohn
said everyone should put their rivalries behind and here, Sri Lankan
leaders have promised to do so.
that possible given the history of these conflicts? That's a human
question. We are going to proceed on the assumption that this is
a human tragedy and not a Tamil or Sinhalese or Aceh (Indonesia)
tragedy. To that extent we can -- and I know the UN Secretary General
feels the same way -- and wish to have a colour blind approach to
noting that many people doubt this (government channelling aid through
an LTTE structure) would happen, he said, "Our task is try
and ensure that it does happen. We are going to give it a shot.
In the case of Indonesia and Sri Lanka where you have had conflicts
one would hope in occasions like this that here is an opportunity
for not only dealing with the human issue but dealing with peace
who met civil society leaders including religious leaders and representatives
of NGOs in addition to meeting President Chandrika Kumaratunga,
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse and opposition parties, said it
was crucial that local communities are involved in the decision-making
process, not governments alone.
shouldn't make a decision ignoring the needs of the local people.
That's a principle we would be following. I hope governments will."
The bank will cut through barriers and other constraints in normal
programme lending to ensure funds reach the people as fast as possible.
"This is an emergency that has to be dealt with differently
than traditional programmes," he said. The bank has made an
emergency credit of $75 million of which $30 million is grant aid;
$100 million from existing projects is being channelled for emergency
work and another $10 million for ongoing health, water and sanitation
programmes is being diverted for other emergency work.
Wolfensohn said money was not an issue. "We could ourselves
go up to a billion dollars or a billion and a half without any difficulty
in terms of new and converted funds if the need arose."