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Japan grants USD 636,363 to HALO Trust for demining in North

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The government of Japan has provided US$ 636,363 (approx. Rs. 115 million) to the HALO Trust for humanitarian demining activities in Northern Sri Lanka. The grant contract was signed on Oct 29 between Ambassador of Japan in Sri Lanka, Sugiyama Akira, and Programme Manager of the HALO Trust Belinda Vause.

Due to the prevailing Covid-19 situation, the contract was signed remotely, Japanese Embassy said in a release.

It said: The project will contribute to the efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka in ensuring that mine-contaminated areas are safe, enabling the resettlement of the displaced people and enhancing directly or indirectly more than 5,000 people’s livelihoods in Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu and Jaffna Districts.

Japan has been a major donor in the area of mine clearance in Sri Lanka since 2002, and the only country which assists all the four demining NGOs currently operating in Sri Lanka. More than US$ 37.5 million in assistance was rendered towards this cause through its Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project (GGP). HALO started its operation in Sri Lanka in 2002, and has released over 35 square km of contaminated land in the country. More than 20% of it was accomplished through the assistance from Japan.

The Government of Sri Lanka aims to achieve a mine impact free Sri Lanka within a few years and become the next mine impact free country in the world. Through the project the Government of Japan assists this endeavor and ensures the country to be safe for all.

Commenting on the provision of this grant, Belinda Vause stated: “The HALO Trust is incredibly grateful to The Government of Japan for this continued support. Across the world, Japan has an honorable history of providing humanitarian assistance to clear landmines in post conflict countries and few places is that more evident than in Sri Lanka. Japan is currently funding four demining operators in Sri Lanka and over the last 17 years, Japanese support to The HALO Trust alone has led to the clearance of 9.12 square kilometers of contaminated land and the removal of over 94,000 mines and other explosive remnants of war. This has been achieved through the employment of hundreds of men and women in the post-conflict areas, providing a noble income. Once the land is cleared from these deadly legacies of war, it is safe to live upon or to farm again, enabling economic growth. To date the work of HALO’s Japan-funded mine clearance teams has helped over 200,000 people. In this endeavor Japan is supporting The Government of Sri Lanka to reach their goal – to clear Sri Lanka of landmines.”

 

 

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PSC action could cripple health services, warns GMOA Secretary

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There were vacancies for 89 specialist doctors in government teaching hospitals due to certain actions taken by the Public Service Commission (PSC), the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) said yesterday.

GMOA secretary Dr. Senal Fernando yesterday told The Island those vacancies had the potential to cripple the state health service, as the service was stressed due to COVID-19.

Dr. Fernando said: “Specialist doctors are appointed and transfered according to procedures established by the Health Service Minute. The Ministry of Health is responsible for the transfers and the PSC should oversee the transfering process to ensure that they are made in a proper manner.”

“The PSC has ordered the appointment of a committee to look into the matter but there is no mention of such a committee in the Health Service Minute. Instead of following the process, the PSC has tried to intervene in the process and 89 posts remain vacant during the time of COVID-19,” he said.

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Hizbullah denies links with Zahran

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But signed agreement for Zahran’s help in 2015 GE

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Former Governor of the Eastern Province, M. L. A. M. Hizbullah on Monday night told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) probing Easter Sunday attacks, that he had not had any links to National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) leader Zahran Hashim. The NTJ members had assaulted his supporters at Kattankudy in March 2017, he said.

Hizbullah said so when the Commissioners asked him about his links with Zahran.

Hizbullah was also asked about billions of rupees he had received from foreign organisations since 2016. Earlier in the day, it was revealed that close to Rs. 4 billion had been deposited by foreign individuals and institutions in two accounts Hizbullah operated at the Bank of Ceylon Colpetty Branch from 2016 to 2019.

The witness said the Sri Lanka Hira Foundation, a social service institution run by him, had received money from foreign countries after March 2016.

“Ali Abdullah al-Juffali of Saudi Arabia gave Rs. 308 million and Siddique and Diana Osmond of London gave Rs. 5.5 million,” he said.

Hizbullah added that he knew al-Juffali and some other Saudi philanthropists. Al Juffali family was one of the richest Saudis with an estimated worth USD 19.8 billion, he said.

Then, a video of a discussion Zahran had with Sibli Farooq of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress was played at the PCoI.

The video showed Zahran and Farooq talking about a sum of one million riyals that Hizbullah had allegedly received from Saudi Arabia. In the video, Zahran says that he had no problem with Hizbullah receiving money from Saudi Arabia.

In response, Hizbullah said that by the 2015 Presidential election, Farooq and Zahran had been against him. A member of the Commission then asked why Hizbullah had entered into an agreement with Zahran during an election if he had acted against him.

Hizbullah said Zahran had told, on social media, that he would support politicians who agreed to some of his proposals.” All the parties joined him. I also went along,” he said. Earlier, it was revealed that representatives for the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC,) Democratic Party, UNP, UPFA and National Front for Good Governance (NFGG) had signed agreements with Zahran in exchange for the support of NTJ in 2015.

Hizbullah was also questioned on the Aliyar clash between NTJ and Sunnath Wal Jamaat, a group that supported Hizbullah, on 10 March, 2017.

“Did you ask Zahran to surrender to the court through his mother?” a member of the Commission questioned.

“I made no such comment. I do not know if anyone in my party did so,” he said.

The Commissioners also asked Hizbullah about growing date palms in the Kattankudy area and placing Arabic billboards.

The witness replied that he had grown date palms because of the high temperatures in the area. Nameplates with Arabic letters had been put up to attract Arabic students as they were largely visiting the area, he said.

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CA annuls summons issued on President

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The Court of Appeal yesterday annulled the summons issued on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa over the disappearance of two persons in Jaffna in 2011.

Lalith Kumar Weeraraj and Kugan Muruganathan went missing in 2011. Last year, Jaffna Magistrate’s Court issued summons on Rajapaksa over a habeas corpus petition filed by the relatives of the two missing activists. They had named Rajapaksa one of the respondents since he was the Defence Secretary at the time of the disappearances.

Earlier, Rajapaksa had submitted a writ application stating that he found it difficult to appear before the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court due to security reasons. The Court of Appeal issued an injunction preventing Rajapaksa being summoned by the Magistrate.

President of the Court of Appeal A. H. M. D. Nawaz, declaring their decision, said that a Magistrate’s Court could only issue summons over a specific reason. However the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court had issued the summons based on a motion of a lawyer and that there was no legal basis for the summons. Thus, the Court of Appeal issued a writ notification declaring the summons issued by the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court void.

 

 

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