People still face many challenges

swireBritain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister Hugo Swire, said that the people of Jaffna still “face many challenges”, following meetings with Northern Province Chief Minister CV Wigneswaran and journalists from the Jaffna Press Club on 29 January 2015.

Commenting on his visit Mr Swire stated he was “pleased to have visited Jaffna”, and said, “Northern Sri Lanka suffered much throughout the country’s long conflict and the people there still face many challenges. This was part of the reason why Prime Minister David Cameron also prioritised visiting Jaffna when he was in Sri Lanka for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2013.”

The minister met with journalists from the Jaffna Press Club (JPC), who told him that there was “no signs of decrease in crisis faced by journalists in North-East SriLanka.”

UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister of State for Sri Lanka, Hugo Swire, who travelled to Jaffna , expressed optimism that press freedom will grow under the new government.

This was the minister’s first visit to Jaffna. He met Chief Minister of the Northern Province, C. V. Wigneswaran and visited the British Council, a UK funded demining operation by the HALO Trust in Muhamalai, Elephant Pass and the Sabapathipillai Welfare Village.

Commenting on his visit, Swire said:

“I am pleased to have visited Jaffna today. Northern Sri Lanka suffered much throughout the country’s long conflict and the people there still face many challenges. This was part of the reason why Prime Minister David Cameron also prioritised visiting Jaffna when he was in Sri Lanka for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2013.

Today I saw and heard several different aspects of the Northern Province’s story. With the Chief Minister I discussed reconciliation and accountability, the role of the military, the prospects for a political settlement and ways in which the UK might assist Sri Lanka. Seeing Elephant Pass was a strong reminder of how important it is that Sri Lanka should not succumb once again to conflict.

I was pleased to donate books to the Jaffna library. While there, I met journalists to discuss press freedom and the pressures journalists have faced in the recent past. The hope must be that press freedom will increase under the new Sri Lankan government.

I also visited the Sabapathipillai welfare village which David Cameron visited in 2013. Along with my team, I was pleased to gift shoes to all of the schoolchildren of the village – just in time for the new Sri Lankan school year! The welfare village remains, even nearly six years after the conclusion of the conflict. I encourage the new government of Sri Lanka to seek a long-term solution, allowing people to return, where possible, to their original land.

Whilst in Jaffna the British minister also donated books to the Jaffna Library. He also visited the Sabapathipillai welfare village, which British Prime Minister David Cameron visited during his trip to Jaffna in 2013. “The welfare village remains, even nearly six years after the conclusion of the conflict,” noted the minister.

“I encourage the new government of Sri Lanka to seek a long-term solution, allowing people to return, where possible, to their original land.”

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