UN official calls for end to war

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 06 May 1998, 23:59 GMT]
The UN Special Representative on Children in Armed Conflict, Olara Otunnu, and the other speakers at the auditorium of the Medical Faculty of the University of Jaffna, all said that both sides of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka had to come together to find a solution to the war, said sources in Jaffna.

Mr Otunnu, speaking at the meeting chaired by the Additional Government Agent Jaffna, T.Vaithilingam, said that he had come to find remedies to trauma induced by war, but his success depended on whether both sides to the conflict were willing to get involved in finding a solution.

Bishop S.Jebanesan of the Church of South India (CSI) said that though all Sri Lankans had to bear the brunt of the civil war, it was Tamil women and children who bore the worst of it.

He stressed the urgency of ushering in peace when he said that the human and material damage caused by war could be assessed at any time, what was vital was to establish peace.

T.Paramantham, Chairman of the NGO Consortium of Jaffna, said that if Sri Lankans wanted peace it was important that parties relevant to bringing about a settlement should be drawn into the peace process.

He said that human suffering in war was not limited to being wounded by bullets. The mental and psychological agony brought about by the breakup of families, or the inability to live in one's own home also traumatized people and had to be looked into when resettling displaced persons.

Dr.N.Sivagnanasundaram (Nandi), former Dean, Medical Faculty, University of Jaffna, said that though the war had grown in its ferocity in the past few years, it had been waged for a long time.

In 1958, 1977, 1981 and 1983, Tamils had been subject to pogroms. It was only after 1983 that rioting and organised violence against Tamils abated. This was because Tamils had taken up arms in self-protection, he said.

"Whether Tamils like it or not, they will have to wield arms", he said, adding "Tamils also desperately wanted peace, but they realised that it had to be fought for".

Mr.Thirunavukarasu (Tamil United Liberation Front) and Dr.T.Natchinarkiniyar also spoke.

Mr. Otunnu who arrived in Jaffna on Monday at Palaly by aircraft, and was taken through the streets of Jaffna with a military escort.


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