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10 years on from civil war: FDFA troubled by fresh tensions in Sri Lanka

18 May 2019 marks the 10th anniversary of the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka. On this day, Switzerland will remember the many victims of this armed conflict. At the same time, the FDFA is deeply concerned about the recent flare-up in tensions and calls on the Sri Lankan government to do everything in its power to safeguard and strengthen peace and stability in the country.

The civil war, which lasted for almost 30 years, claimed tens of thousands of civilian victims and led to deep ethnic divisions in the country. More than 50,000 Sri Lankans sought refuge in Switzerland. At the UN Human Rights Council, the post-war government of Sri Lanka pledged to combat impunity as part of a wider reconciliation process.

The Easter Sunday terrorist attacks against civilians and members of the Christian community in the capital Colombo and other cities, coupled with the ensuing clashes and assaults against ethnic minorities and refugees, showed that the root causes of the conflict have not yet been properly addressed. Switzerland condemns the intolerance and violence that have led to tremendous suffering in Sri Lanka over the last few decades, and offers its sincere condolences to the victims’ families.

Switzerland encourages the national government to do everything in its power to ensure that all sections of society, irrespective of ethnic background, religion, caste or status, feel part of the nation of Sri Lanka. The cycles of violence can only be stopped if the government ensures that perpetrators can no longer enjoy impunity. Switzerland has long supported reconciliation efforts, the strengthening of the rule of law and institutional reforms in Sri Lanka. On this day of remembrance, Switzerland reiterates its commitment to supporting Sri Lanka’s efforts to secure lasting peace and stability.

Switzerland's wide-ranging activities in post-war Sri Lanka

Switzerland’s commitment to peace and dialogue in Sri Lanka began long before the civil war came to an end. In the intervening years, it has helped to strengthen the rule of law in the country through its various activities in relation to reconciliation, the reform process, dealing with the past and the safeguarding of human rights. Between 2009 and 2016, Switzerland built homes for 5,000 families and schools for 1,200 children in the north of the country. The focus of SDC activities in Sri Lanka is now on labour migration; this work is carried out as part of its Global Programme ‘Migration and Development’. In 2016 the Swiss Confederation put in place an interdepartmental strategy to coordinate its bilateral relations with Sri Lanka. In 2018 Switzerland entered into a migration partnership with Sri Lanka. It is a formal expression of the countries’ shared intention to step up their migration cooperation. This agreement is also the first concluded with an Asian country.

(FDFA Switzerland)