Housing for dignity: IFRC Secretary General praises Sri Lankan partnership programme

Posted on Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

04/03/2016 – Colombo, Sri Lanka: A programme that has provided housing for more than 100,000 conflict-affected people in the north of Sri Lanka is an example of the unique and long-term impact that sustained, community-level engagement can have, even in the most complex of settings, said the Secretary General of the IFRC.

“This programme has been based on a partnership between the Red Cross and families affected by the conflict,” said Secretary General, Elhadj As Sy. “This approach has enabled families to build the homes that suit their needs. But beyond that, it has helped affected communities to regain their hope, and recover what is most important to them, their human dignity.”

The Red Cross Post Conflict Recovery Programme, supported by the IFRC and its partners, including the Government of India, has provided more than 21,000 families with financial and technical help to build new homes and re-establish their lives in areas that were affected by the past conflict in Sri Lanka.

Mr Sy visited Sri Lanka at the invitation of the President of the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society, Mr Jagath Abeysinghe. On Wednesday (2 March) he travelled to Jaffna and Kilinochchi where he met with families supported by the programme as well as Red Cross volunteers. He was struck by the determination and resilience of the people he met.

First the Secretary General visited the Jaffna branch in order to meet the volunteers and staff.


Later he visited Karainagar in Jaffna and was greeted by the community.

He also met with beneficiaries and opened few houses that were build by the post conflict recovery programme.

“I was taken to Jaffna and Kilinochchi to meet the “victims and beneficiaries”,” he said. “What I found was beauty, grace, dignity resilience and hospitality …People committed to building a better future for their children. Their courage and determination are truly inspiring”

After his visit to Jaffna, Secretary General As Sy made his way to Kilinochchi in order to speak with volunteers and staff of the branch. He was greeted and joined by the Governor of the Northern Province Reginald Cooray.

In Colombo, Mr Sy met with the President of Sri Lanka, H. E. Maithripala Sirisena. They discussed continued and critical role the Sri Lanka Red Cross in support of vulnerable people in Sri Lanka.

He also met with other high-level dignitaries, including the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Harsha De Silva, the Minister of Finance Ravi Karunanayake, the Minister of Fisheries Mahinda Amaraweera and the High Commissioner for India in Sri Lanka H. E. Mr. Y. K. Sinha.

During his visit, Mr Sy spoke of the critical role that the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society plays across the country. In the past five years alone, local Red Cross volunteers have helped more than 1 million people who have been affected by various disasters.