Sri Lanka News

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Top German Tour Operator curbs Lankan tours

The Sri Lanka’s already dwindling Tourism Industry is in for a further shock!

The top German tour Operator LTU has cut down its flights to Sri Lanka drastically. Prior to Tsunami 2004, LTU flew 14000 German tourists to Sri Lanka that year.

But, in 2006/7 season it slumped to 6000 .In the first quarter of this year it fell by 33% and in Aprilby 44%.This has been attributed to the Security vulnerability in the country.

The entire Tourism Industry is in a quandary, because, this tourist arrival decline has set up a vicious cycle involving all the Hotels, being unable to maintain themselves, staff retrenchment problems, foreign exchange earnings plummeting, and country’ s economy as a whole muddled up, with the Rajapakse regime clueless to find solutions.

Sources said that originally LTU was to operate two charter flights per week during the summer. However following the spate of LTTE air raids and adverse publicity in international press over the worsening security situation, it has reduced the frequency to just one, and that’s too combining with the Maldives, which is enjoying record tourist arrivals.

LTU has also put off the decision to announce its frequency for the 2007/8 winter season.

“They will announce the schedule based on the number of seats contracted by tour operators from Germany to Sri Lanka. Since there aren’t any encouraging signs as well as slow bookings the LTU hasn’t yet been able to make an announcement,” sources said. In the past by this time of the year, LTU would have announced its services to the winter season.

Industry analysts said that it was the first time that the LTU was indecisive and this, apart from reducing the summer frequency to a mere weekly service, was a severe blow to prospects of wooing German tourists into Sri Lanka.

Leisure industry experts warned that on account of plunge in arrivals, the hotel trade was facing a severe financial crisis. “The crisis in the overall tourism sector is getting worse and its impact on the economy would be felt very soon,” they said adding that the livelihood of a large number of people who depend on tourism has shrunk which would have a snowball effect soon.

Last week the industry kicked off yet another spirited initiative “Sri Lanka Calling” to woo tourists that are hard to come by while there is also renewed focus on boosting domestic tourism.

The Maldives which had a record year in 2006 with over 600,000 tourists, is experiencing continued windfall. Arrivals in the first quarter for the Maldives rose by 16% to nearly 200,000 tourists. If it maintains this growth Maldives will enjoy yet another record year in tourist arrivals.

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May 29, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

UN to send strong messages to LTTE and Karuna on child soldiers


By Walter Jayawardhana

A statement issued by the United Nations said the Security Council working group on Children and Armed Conflict has decided to send a strong message to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and its rival Tamil Makkal Vidutalai Pulikal (TMVP) or Karuna Faction against their engagement of child soldiers in Sri Lanka.

“They have to stop grave violations of children’s rights, especially the recruitment and the use of children in the conflict in Sri Lanka", said the statement quoting Radhika Coomaraswami, UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.

Unlike during on a previous occasion, in a report by Alan Rock the press release did not drag the name of the government of Sri Lanka, that led to angry demonstrations then in Colombo in front of the UN offices there.

The release from the UN said, Ms. Coomaraswamy, UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict welcomes the recommendations adopted by the Working Group. "These recommendations send a strong message to the LTTE, a repeat offender who has been on the Secretary General’s list of violators for four years and to the Karuna faction-TMVP.”

The statement dated May 11 further said, the Security Council Working group on Children and Armed Conflict adopted its recommendations on the situation in Sri Lanka and in Nepal and examined the Secretary General’s reports on Somalia and Uganda on the previous day.

Coomaraswamy was quoted having said, “. They have to stop grave violations of children’s rights, especially the recruitment and the use of children in the conflict in Sri Lanka. In regard to Nepal, we hope that the children who remain in the ranks of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) will be demobilized and reintegrated in their communities without delay".

In his report on Somalia, the Secretary General estimates that more than one third of the victims who were killed and injured in fighting there in 2006 were children. Insecurity and violence in Southern and Central Somalia is characterized by grave child rights violations. Continued fighting in and around Mogadishu between the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and remnants of the Union of Islamic Courts forces has resulted in more casualties and violations against children in 2007. Humanitarian access has been severely compromised and has had serious implications for children. In the absence of a functioning police and judiciary, crimes against civilians, including women and children, are committed with impunity. The recruitment and use of child soldiers by the TFG and other armed groups is a significant concern.

The Secretary General’s report on the situation in Uganda highlights the preliminary steps taken by the Government of Uganda to address violations against children, in particular the drafting of an Action Plan to eliminate the use and recruitment of children in armed conflict. It also contains a series of recommendations with a view to securing strengthened action for the protection of war-affected children in Uganda. The Secretary General urges the leaders of Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) to take immediate steps to end child recruitment and the use of child soldiers, and immediately release all children

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May 12, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tigers bought arms with Govt. money: UNP

The UNP charged yesterday the LTTE had procured arms in Australia using monies given to it by the government before and after the Presidential Election as alleged by former minister Sripathy Sooriyarachchi in Parliament recently

By Kelum Bandara Wijeya Newspapers

Referring to a statement made by Mr. Sooriyarachchi, Party frontliner Lakshman Kiriella told a news conference the government had given Rs. 200 billion to the LTTE in the run up to the election in 2005, another large sum of money running into millions later, some through various Cabinet papers.

Mr. Kiriella said Tigers had used these funds to procure arms and explosives to strengthen their arsenal against the security forces, and therefore the Parliamentary Select Committee should be appointed immediately, as requested by Mr. Sooriyarachchi.

“We are ready to prove that the LTTE had used these monies to smuggle in arms. For that purpose, we will produce the copies of court cases filed against the Tigers in Australia. So, we urge the authorities concerned to appoint the Select Committee as soon as possible,” he said.

The UNP said the provision of funds to a terrorist outfit was also against international law, therefore they could take up the matter before the ‘international court of justice’.

May 9, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Both sides claim Tamil fuel storage tanks destroyed


By Walter Jayawardhana

The Ministry of Defense announced that its air force fighter bombers pounded on Ramanathapuram, East of Iranamadu in the rebel stronghold of Maulativu at a strategic base.


The rebel controlled Tamil Net said the Sri Lanka Air Force dropped bombs at Vaddakkachchi and destroyed a fuel storage belonging to the “private sector.”The Tamil Net said the pounding took place at 7.30.

The Ministry of Defense said, “Sri Lanka Air Force fighters pounded on a pre-identified LTTE base at Ramanatpuram east of Iranamadu, in the Mullaittivu District today morning , Monday the 07th of May.

“The SLAF supersonic fighter jets pounded on a strategic LTTE base at Ramanatpuram East of Iranamadu at 07.25 am and the SLAF confirmed that the LTTE base was completely destroyed in the successive air raids.

“According to the Air Force sources, a large complex of buildings including a fuel storage, large stock of arms, ammunition and explosives were completely destroyed.

The sources further said that the targeted LTTE base was used by the LTTE terrorists for their recent training activities.

The aerial reconnaissance reports of the attack indicated that the flame lasted for hours after the attack.

“The intelligence sources revealed that the target has been accurately identified through timely ground information received from reliable sources.”

The Ministry of Defense website published aerial photos and a video depicting the fuel storage on fire.

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May 8, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Britain cuts aids to Sri Lanka to force their peace process


By Walter Jayawardhana

Observers in Colombo said that the British effort to bring peace to its former colony of Sri Lanka could be in trouble since the British High Commissioner in Colombo, Dominick John Chilcot is in a diplomatic row with the Colombo government and Britain has decided to freeze a package of aid to the island nation as a method of hand twisting.

The Sri Lankan government yesterday blocked a visit to the rebel-held north of the island by a group of British diplomats, led by Colombo’s Deputy British High Commissioner Lesley Craig who had wanted to discuss the future of the troubled peace process with the Tigers.

Sources in Colombo said while British money continues to flow into Sri Lanka to fund an insurgency waged against the government the British High Commissioner has brought pressure on the government not to wage war against them.

Speaking in British parliament, the country’s Minister of Foreign Office Kim Howells said, “’What is Britain doing to help with the search for peace? First and foremost, we are offering the benefit of our Northern Ireland experience.”

Sri Lanka’s second largest opposition party has already declared that Sri Lanka is in need of a genuine peace process without external interference. So it is expected that a peace process with the British hand twisting would be vehemently opposed and campaigned against heavily by them in the country.

Using a ceasefire the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has even developed its air wing forcing the Sri Lanka government to close down its only international airport to night time flights.

While Sri Lanka is unable to allow night time flights due to the inability to equip its small air force to deal with LTTE’s small converted aircraft invading the city of Colombo Britain is dictating its former colony not to increase its military budget to fight the world’s most innovative terrorist group, sources in Colombo charged.

Britain said it was withholding millions of dollars worth of aid to its former colony to twist the government’s hand and until the government of Sri Lanka meets defense spending conditions- another way of telling stop the war with the insurgents. While observers see no end to the millions of dollars still flowing to the LTTE Britain has seen it fit to stop its aid to Sri Lanka, political sources charged.

Britain said it is suspending half of the 2.95 millions of pounds it had earlier agreed to give to help Sri Lanka pay off some debts to the World bank after paying only half of the payments.

“What we have said for this year is we are making half of the agreed payment because there is an ongoing consultation process about progress towards meeting the conditions agreed between the two governments," the spokesman for Britain’s mission in Colombo said.

"The remainder of the money will be paid to Sri Lanka when we are satisfied that those conditions have been met."

The British High Commissioner visited a news paper office in which the editor claimed that she had been threatened by a the defense secretary. He said he was declaring solidarity with the editor. The defense secretary said he did no such threatening. The newspaper is owned by the uncle of the leader of Opposition, Ranil Wickremesinghe, who himself expelled a British reporter from the country for writing against his government, when he was the Prime Minister.

Whether the claim of the editor was true or not, the interference of the British High Commissioner was seen as interference in the internal affairs of the country by sections of the government.

It has become customary for British High Commissioners to interfere in the internal affairs of the country. During a United national Party regime former President Ranasinghe Premadasa declared a former British High Commissioner persona non grata and ordered him out of the country, accusing him of interference in the internal affairs of the country.

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May 4, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment