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Jim Luce Headshot

In Sri Lanka: Reconciliation and Reconstruction

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Sri Lanka is now focused on the "3 R's:" Rehabilitation, Reconstruction, and Reconciliation. The immense cost for resettling the 280,000 people in the camps is staggering. European leaders need to stop lecturing and start helping.

It is actually possible that China will be able to step into the picture if Europe continues to lecture -- instead of assist -- the government of Sri Lanka. We will see Asians helping Asians, and the 'Chinese Century' will become self-fulfilling. Japan, too, is providing assistance.

The government of Sri Lanka is cash-stretched for having paid for the military campaign to end three decades of war, coupled with the lack of tourists since the Tsunami, followed by the global meltdown that hurts Sri Lanka as much as any other country.

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The Sri Lankan military is providing for the refugees.

The faces of children are heartbreaking. Even more tragic is that at least some of them had been trained as child soldiers by the Tamil Tigers. I will file a story shortly about a project just north of Colombo to rehabilitate the child soldiers who have been rescued.

The world may never know the exact number of Sri Lankans -- Tamil and Sinhala combined -- killed in the decades-long conflict, or even in its final battle.

Ironically, the government slowed its final offensive to assure the fewest number of civilian casualties -- the Tamils used as human shields. The U.S. and Europe used that time to demand a ceasefire that would have allowed Tiger leadership to escape and regroup.

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The caring response of Sri Lanka's exhausted militia is inspiring.

The United Nations believes a total of 80,000 to 100,000 people died on both sides during the 28 years of bloodshed.

Given the unprecedented number of women and children the Tigers held hostage -- some estimated up to 100,000 were used as human shields -- the number killed in the final days of fighting could be high.

But the U.N. has stated that the Times of London's estimate of 20,000 killed in the final battle as being based on unreliable data.

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An additional 80,000 joined the military in the last six months.

The European Union's unsuccessful attempts to cry "war crimes" against Sri Lanka perhaps ironically heralds the end of European colonial domination as it has been known for over four hundred years.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has announced that he welcomes all the Tamils who have been compelled to live abroad back to the island to take part in the future development process.

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Paradise was turned into hell by the Tamil Tigers

Sri Lanka's new Minister of National Reconciliation is the former high-ranking Tamil Tiger leader, V. Muralitharan.

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Young and old have both been victims of the war.

He has been appointed by the president. At press-time, an interview with Mr. Muralitharan and the Huffington Post is pending.

Last week, a distinguished group of Tamil professionals from the north met with the government and pledged their full cooperation in rebuilding the region to its old glory.

The government plans to provide electricity to the north as soon as possible.

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Giving water to an exhausted and dehydrated child.

Sadly, many European NGO's who came to the island to help after the Tsunami stayed to work and support the Tigers.

A Norwegian head of an NGO was expelled just last week for actively supporting the Tamil Tigers in the last days of their existence.

In the past, another Norwegian NGO was charged with "losing" three dozen vehicles, including heavy earth moving equipment, to the Tigers.

The organization I founded ten years ago, Orphans International Worldwide, active in the south since the Tsunami and associated with the United Nations (DPI), stands by ready to assist as needed.

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These children will always remember their rescuers.