(This edition has been compiled by Anuradha Gunarathne)
In the July edition of Refugee Watch Online we have tried to flag issues and concerns of the reconciliation and peace-building efforts in Sri Lanka. Studies have shown that in situations of protracted displacement, the vulnerable population (ie, women, children and youth) are the worst affected. Members of youth, in particular are not only participants of conflict by taking up arms for state or non-state but also victims of war. Their situation is much more complex, and the effects of witnessing war in the growing up years have psychological implications as well.
In other words, during peace-building efforts special attention should be given to address the members of the youth as the case study in Allaipiddy Village of Jaffna Peninsula shows. Allaipiddy in Velani DS Division in Jaffna is situated in the High Security Zone spreading across 144 sq.km. Considering its strategic location, villagers suffered multiple displacements which affected their livelihoods and also their children’s education. Now most of the younger members are unable to apply for jobs because they have not been able to complete their education. In this article, “Youth: Participants and Victims of War” Chulanee Attanayake brings to the forefront the issues and concerns of youth that need to be addressed in the peace-building efforts. While there have been various studies on the reconciliation efforts in SriLanka; Anuradha Gunarathne and Azmiya Badurdeen in the article “Internally Displaced Persons in the Process of Reconciliation: Implications for Durable Solutions” flags off the issues concerning internally displaced people. One of the important and pressing issues is how do you renew trust among returnees?
In the section on Reports we present to you one of the background papers commissioned for the EFA Global Monitoring Report 2011, “The hidden crisis: Armed conflict and education”. J.R.A Williams(2010) in this extensive report on “The impact of conflict and displacement (2006-2010) in SriLanka” shows the various methods introduced during conflict and post conflict to improve educational standards. What is significant and commendable is the way in which this report includes both the state and non-state initiatives. For instance in camps, “donors funded learning and child-friendly spaces, and teachers were recruited from the inmates, but facilities were never adequate to provide for the numbers of displaced children, and there was no access for teacher training or monitoring”. Even during war times ceasefire was respected during “national exams”. Temporary learning spaces (TLS) with the help of humanitarian agencies have been successful in maintaining displaced families commitment to education. Even when people were on the move tractors with school material accompanied them. Post war, agencies like UNICEF, Plan International and Save the Children have been developing educational materials for catch up education programmes to reintegrate the war affected children with the mainstream education. Catch up programmes are common in North and East SriLanka and have been successful so far. Another initiative taken by UNICEF has been Child Friendly School (CFS) approaches. According to this report, “the critical need is for attention and resources to return to the development priorities, such as child-friendly schooling, vocational education, and national Early Childhood Education and Development (ECED) standards, which were overwhelmed by the emergency response”.
We have tried to bring to the forefront some of the issues that need special attention in the reconstruction efforts in SriLanka. We welcome your comments and suggestions on the same.
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