Oxfam aims to ease ethnic tensions

[TamilNet, Thursday, 02 September 1999, 15:51 GMT]
UK-based OXFAM, a leading foreign non-governmental organisation, has invited leading citizens of the Trincomalee district for a conference to look at easing tensions between Tamil, Sinhalese and Muslim communities.

The conference, 'Community Reconciliation Activities in the District', will be held at Trincomalee Social Services Centre hall on September 6, Monday at 2.30 p.m.

"The OXFAM has been working for the last 8 years in the Trincomalee district, on humanitarian projects that have helped numerous poor and displaced families," said the NGO's Program Officer for east Sri Lanka, Dr Niaz Murtaza in an invitation to potential delegates.

"While those families are now resettled, most of them are unable to lead normal lives due to the on-going armed conflict. Besides the armed conflict, unnecessary tensions among ordinary persons belonging to the three communities, Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslims, have also resulted in sufferings for everybody as social and economic ties, such as trade, among them have been disrupted," Dr Murtaza said.

"While the OXFAM is unable to contribute directly to ending the war, we are interested in supporting the efforts of numerous enlightened persons in the district who are trying to remove the tensions that exist among the ordinary persons of the three communities in the Trincomalee district," he said.

The OXFAM has recently initiated a dialogue with a small number of Trincomalee citizens to analyse what support the NGO could provide them to make their work more effective.

After initial discussions, it was felt that it would be more important to invite other interested parties, belonging to all the three communities and drawn from all walks of life, to join such efforts, Dr Murtaza said.

"The September 6th meeting has been organised to discuss the role of leading citizens could play in reducing tensions among the three communities and the support the OXFAM could provide them," he added.

 

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