2nd Lead (Adds details)
British Minister to visit Sri Lanka
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 06 December 2005, 11:58 GMT]
British Cabinet Minister, Ms. Tessa Jowell MP, Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, will visit Sri Lanka on 8 and 9 December as part of a five-day visit which also included India and Thailand. Ms Jowell will be the first British Minister to visit Sri Lanka since President Rajapakse was elected.
A press release by British High Commission Colombo said that during the visit, the Minister will look at tsunami reconstruction work and meet those working on rehabilitation. In her role as the Minister responsible for the long-term aftercare of UK victims of the tsunami, Ms. Jowel will report back to the Prime Minister Blair on the progress made on her return to UK.
On 8 December, she will hold talks with senior members of the Sri Lankan government. She will also attend a lunch with leading Sri Lankan women in her role as British Minister for Women.
The Minister will meet a group of children who will be helped by a British-funded project called “Youth Rehabilitation and Reconciliation through Community Cricket." This aims to bring youth from different communities together, including those from conflict affected areas and build trust through a shared experience of sport.
Ms. Jowel will see an expert of the Edinburgh Festival award-winning theatre production, The Children of the Sea, performed by tsunami-affected children. This will also be an opportunity to meet leading members of the Sri Lankan artistic community.
On 9 December, the Minister will travel to Galle and Hikkaduwa to visit British volunteers helping in tsunami reconstruction and meet with representatives of the local tourism industry.
The British Government has provided GBP 56.7 million (approximately $ 102 million) worth of post-tsunami assistance to Sri Lanka through grants to the UN and NGOs and in the form of debt relief to the Sri Lankan Government. The British public donated at least GBP 400 million (approximately $ 720 million) of aid to those affected by the tsunami across the region.
Many British NGOs and volunteers are currently in Sri Lanka in post-tsunami reconstruction activities.
Tessa Jowell has been the MP for Dulwich and West Norwood since 1992.
She was born in London and was educated at St Margaret's School in Aberdeen and the universities of Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Goldsmith's, London. She is a visiting fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford.
Ms Jowell's previous Ministerial appointments were Minister of State for Employment, Welfare to Work and Equal Opportunities at the Department for Education and Employment (1999-2001) and Minister of State for Public Health at the Department of Health (1997-1999).