Sri Lanka at a glance
Processing a Slaughter Foretold
Despite the government declaring the end of the conflict in May 2009 and the separatist and terrorist group the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) conceding defeat, the situation in Sri Lanka remains bleak given the absence of rule of law in many areas and the considerable humanitarian needs of both the displaced and at-risk populations. The most recent escalation in fighting in 2009 opened a new chapter of increased – and predictable – suffering as civilian populations were once again caught in the crossfire, unable to flee, and subjected to inhumane treatment and a life-threatening situation. Faced with the failure of any prevention efforts and the continued suffering and need in Sri Lanka, the role of the international community has been seriously called into question. In this context, where the UN and NGOs are so weak, close donor coordination and a joint approach is essential. Some consider Sri Lanka an example of good practice in this respect, with the existence of guiding principles, and efforts to arrive at a common stance that includes Japan. The Sri Lankan context poses a number of challenges for the international aid community, especially access to people in need, and donors can certainly do more to save lives and push issues of access.