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Cablegate: Declaration of Disaster - Sri Lanka-Complex

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS COLOMBO 000020

SIPDIS

AIDAC

ADM AID FOR DCHA/OTI, GREGORY GOTTLIEB & DAVID TAYLOR,
DCHA/AA ROGER WINTER, DCHA/DAA LEN ROGERS, ANE/DAA GORDON
WEST, ANE/AA JIM BEVER, ANE/ESA BERNADETTE BUNDY

NSC FOR JDWORKEN; STATE FOR SA/INS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREL PGOV PTER MOPS PHUM CE LTTE
SUBJECT: DECLARATION OF DISASTER - SRI LANKA-COMPLEX
EMERGENCY

1. SUMMARY: IN DECEMBER 2001, FOLLOWING FIVE YEARS OF THE
BLOODIEST BATTLES IN SRI LANKA'S 20-YEAR CIVIL CONFLICT,
THE LIBERATION TIGERS OF TAMIL EELAM (LTTE) AND THE
GOVERNMENT OF SRI LANKA (GSL), RESPECTIVELY, DECLARED
UNILATERAL CEASE-FIRES IN SHORT SUCCESSION. THESE
UNILATERAL CEASEFIRES WERE REPLACED BY A FORMAL MEMORANDUM
OF UNDERSTANDING IN FEBRUARY 2002 THAT LED TO A SERIES OF
NORWEGIAN GOVERNMENT-BROKERED TALKS BETWEEN THE LTTE AND
THE GSL. IN NOVEMBER 2002, THE NORWEGIAN GOVERNMENT HOSTED
A POLITICALLY-FOCUSED DONOR'S CONFERENCE IN OSLO, FOLLOWED
BY A MEETING BETWEEN THE LTTE AND GSL IN WHICH THE TWO
PARTIES AGREED TO FURTHER STEPS TO SOLIDIFY THE PEACE
PROCESS. AS 2003 COMMENCES, SRI LANKA HAS EXPERIENCED A
FULL YEAR OF PEACE. THERE IS OPTIMISM THAT THE NEW YEAR
WILL BRING FURTHER GAINS AND SET THE STAGE FOR AN END TO
ONE OF ASIA'S LONGEST RUNNING CIVIL WARS. END SUMMARY.

2. SINCE THE SRI LANKA CONFLICT BEGAN IN 1983, AN
ESTIMATED 65,000 PEOPLE HAVE BEEN KILLED AND UP TO ONE
MILLION PEOPLE HAVE BEEN DISPLACED EITHER WITHIN SRI LANKA
OR TO INDIA'S SOUTHERN STATE OF TAMIL NADU. WHILE A 1995
PEACE INITIATIVE BROUGHT SOME HOPE THAT THE CONFLICT COULD
BE SETTLED THROUGH PEACEFUL NEGOTIATIONS, THESE TALKS
QUICKLY BROKE DOWN AND USHERED IN FIVE MORE YEARS OF
FIGHTING THAT KILLED THOUSANDS AND LED TO A MILITARY
STALEMATE. COMBINED WITH ECONOMIC DECLINE BROUGHT ON BY
YEARS OF WAR AND THE EXTERNAL PRESSURE BROUGHT TO BEAR ON
THE LTTE AS A TERRORIST-DESIGNATED ORGANIZATION, THE TWO
WARRING PARTIES DECIDED TO INITIATE THE CURRENT PEACE
INITIATIVE THAT MOST OBSERVERS AGREE IS SRI LANKA'S BEST
CHANCE IN TWO DECADES TO END THE BITTER CIVIL CONFLICT.

3. THE ROOTS OF SRI LANKA'S ARMED CONFLICT ARE DEEP AND
COMPLEX. A LASTING PEACE WILL NOT BE OBTAINED ONLY BY
SIGNING A NEGOTIATED POLITICAL COMPROMISE. PEACE WILL
REQUIRE A PROCESS OF CHANGE IN SOCIO-ETHNIC ATTITUDES,
REFORM OF PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS AND CONSTITUTIONAL REVISION.
THE MOST IMMEDIATE TRANSITIONAL PROBLEM IS TO KEEP THE
PEACE TALKS ON TRACK. THERE ARE TENSIONS AT WORK THAT
COULD DERAIL THE PROCESS, INCLUDING PARTISAN POLITICS,
LOCALIZED VIOLENT FLARE-UPS BETWEEN VARIOUS
RELIGIOUS/ETHNIC GROUPS, AND SINHALESE ANXIETIES OVER LOSS
OF PRIMACY. IN THE SHORT TERM, PARTICULARLY WHILE THE
TALKS ARE UNDERWAY, IT WILL BE CRUCIAL TO MAINTAIN AND
BROADEN THE CONSTITUENCY FOR PEACE AND MITIGATE CONFLICT
AMONG VARIOUS POLITICAL, RELIGIOUS AND ETHNIC GROUPS. SUCH
EFFORTS SHOULD SERVE THIS IMMEDIATE OBJECTIVE, BUT ALSO
HELP BUILD THE FOUNDATION FOR LONGER TERM, MORE
COMPREHENSIVE PROGRAMS THAT AMELIORATE SOCIAL, POLITICAL
AND INSTITUTIONAL PROBLEMS.

4. AS MOST CLEARLY DEMONSTRATED BY RECENT HIGH LEVEL
STATE DEPARTMENT REPRESENTATION AT THE NOVEMBER OSLO
CONFERENCE, THE US HAS AN IMPORTANT INTEREST IN SUPPORTING
THE GOVERNMENT OF SRI LANKA AND THE COUNTRY'S TAMIL AND
MUSLIM MINORITIES DURING THE CURRENT TRANSITIONAL PERIOD.
ACTIVITIES THAT CAN BE SUPPORTED BY THE USG AND THAT
STRENGTHEN A PEACE CONSTITUENCY AND MITIGATE CONFLICT
INCLUDE: SUPPORT FOR LOCAL PEACE COMMITTEES, COMMUNITY
PROJECTS THAT PROMOTE INTER-ETHNIC COOPERATION,
ALTERNATIVE MEDIA AND INFORMATION CAMPAIGNS TO INFORM
COMMUNITIES ON THE PEACE PROCESS, FUNDING INITIATIVES OF
MODERATE LOCAL LEADERS AND ORGANIZATIONS, AND SUPPORT FOR
SMALL COMMUNITY SELF HELP PROJECTS IN WAR-AFFECTED AREAS.

5. FOR THESE REASONS, I HAVE DETERMINED THAT A CIVIL-
POLITICAL CRISIS EXISTS IN SRI LANKA AND, AS REQUIRED BY
LAW, AM HEREBY EXERCISING MY DISASTER ASSISTANCE AUTHORITY
UNDER SECTION 491 OF THE FOREIGN
ASSISTANCE ACT TO REQUEST THAT USAID/DCHA/OTI RESOURCES BE
MADE AVAILABLE IN SUPPORT OF THE IMMEDIATE POST CONFLICT
NEEDS AND TO SUPPORT PEACEFUL DEMOCRATIC TRANSITION IN SRI
LANKA.

WILLS

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