Speaking with the Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Mr Elhadj As Sy, who paid a courtesy call at the President’s official residence today (March 3, 2016), the President said whenever the people talk of reconciliation, the international agencies and communities rush to former conflict areas in North and East seeking reconciliation among the people. He said that the reconciliation must come from the people not due to inducement from outside.

President Sirisena pointed out that the decision to allow the singing of National Anthem in Sinhala and Tamil at the last Independence Day came in for criticism from a substantial section of the people. “This is why it is necessary change the mindset of the people in the South. This is why reconciliation should be inculcated in the minds of the people in the South, mainly in the elderly people. The younger generation is not that much interested,” he said.

Mr Elhadj As Sy said during his visit to Jaffna district yesterday he could see tremendous change for the better in the lifestyle of the people living there. “Now there is a big change in the lifestyles and attitude of the people living over there. The people especially the young ones were happy,” he said.

He added that the IFRC was instrumental in constructing several houses in this area and several thousands of people living in Vavniya, Mulativu, Kilinochchi, Mannar and Jaffna districts received assistance in terms of shelter, livelihood support, water and sanitation, infrastructure development and healthcare programmes conducted by Sri Lanka Red Cross society. Mr.Elhadj said that he would report UN Office in Geneva regarding his positive experiences when visiting former conflict areas.

President Sirisena thanked IFRC and Sri Lanka Red Cross Society for the humanitarian work they have been doing in Sri Lanka for long years responding to situations of natural disasters such as floods, drought and especially during the past tsunami disaster, protecting and assisting those affected by conflict in North and East and accommodating the displaced returnees.