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Laid-off foreigners flee as Dubai declines

Feb 18 (NYT) Sofia, a 34-year-old Frenchwoman, moved here a year ago to take a job in advertising, so confident about Dubai`s fast-growing economy that she bought an apartment for almost $300,000 with a 15-year mortgage. Now, like many of the foreign workers who make up 90 percent of the population here, she has been laid off and faces the prospect of being forced to leave this Gulf city or worse. `I`m really scared of what could happen, because I bought property here,` said Sofia, more..

Clandestine TV station raided

Feb 18 (SAMN) Police have launched a full scale investigation into the operations of a TV broadcaster operating from the TELO premises in Vavuniya under the name SUN TV, after it was found the station did not have a valid licence to operate in Sri Lanka. It was also found that it carried out LTTE propaganda via its satellite broadcasts. Police said the Army on Monday arrested four local employees of the station after they raided its office and took into custody equipment and CDs more..

Govt. seeks 2/3 majority

Feb 18 (SAMN) The government will seek a two-thirds mandate from voters at the next general election to replace the 1978 Constitution with a new one, government said Tuesday. Addressing the media at the Mahaweli Centre, SLFP General Secretary and Minister Maithripala Sirisena said everybody wanted to do away with the present Constitution which was the root cause of many ills of politics and governance in the country. more..

Navy Commander's interview with Business Today

Feb 18 (BT) Vice Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda assumed command of the Sri Lanka Navy on the 1st of September 2005. In the 58-year history of the Sri Lanka Navy, he is the only officer to be considered for the highest seat of the Commander of the Navy straight from a Naval Area Command. He has achieved many firsts in his distinguished, decorative and unblemished Naval career among which is the fact that more..

500 expectant mothers in IDP camps

Feb 18 (SAMN) Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva has directed his officials to remove immediately 500 pregnant women from the temporary camps in Vavuniya and relocate them to hospitals. Health Ministry sources said 500 pregnant women have been identified in eight of the 12 temporary camps established by the government to provide shelter to the fleeing civilians from the LTTE controlled Mullaitivu. more..

Karuna yet to inform stand

Feb 18 (SAMN) The TMVP said MP Vinayagamoorty Muralitharan alias Karuna Amman is yet to inform the party about his decision to quit and join the SLFP. TMVP Spokesperson Azath Maulana said that the Central Committee of the TMVP met yesterday but decided they will take a final decision over Muralitharan at a later date. “He has not informed us that he is quitting the party. Neither has he informed us that he is going to join the SLFP. We have read this only in the media. We will make a decision based on his actions,” more..

Situation report (Feb 18) by SLA

Feb 18 (SLA) NINE besieged civilians including five men one woman two boys and one girl escaped from the clutches of LTTE terrorists, reached POTPATHY in JAFFNA around 11.15 a.m. on Tuesday (17). On the same day, three more civilians from un-cleared areas reached UDAYARKATTU Army controlled area in MULLAITTIVU in search of protection for their lives. All those Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) were sent to “Relief Villages” after giving refreshments to them. more..

Sri Lankan gets tough with eco-labels

Feb 18 (LBO) Sri Lankan businesses that want to market their products and services as eco-friendly would have to get approval from the central environmental authority (CEA) in future. CEA chairman Udaya Gammanpila said new rules will be introduced to prevent misuse of the label which many firms were using as an advertising gimmick. "If a company is using the phrase 'environmentally friendly' as part of their marketing activities they will have to obtain an eco-label from the CEA," more..

Oil exploration: Azerbaijan offers free expertise

Feb 18 (DN) Azerbaijan with a burgeoning oil industry producing nearly one million barrels per day is ready to help Sri Lanka in oil exploration by providing engineering experts free of charge from Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan’s Industry Energy Minister Natiq Aliyev offered this to Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Azerbaijan Mohammed Zuhair. Zuhair with residence in Iran was in Baku on an official visit, which included more..

IDP varsity students sent to Jaffna

Feb 18 (DN) Six university students who were among the civilians who crossed over to the Government-held areas were referred back to Jaffna University, it is reported. Necessary requirements such as, stationery, clothes, etc. were provided to them along with a ticket to sail for Jaffna. In addition, each student was given Rs. 10,000 for expenses, by Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services Minister Rishard Bathiudeen. more..

Trinco hospital to treat seriously injured, sick IDPs

Feb 18 (Island) The Health Ministry has taken steps to admit the seriously injured and sick internally displaced people, who fled from Mullaitivu, to the Trincomalee Hospital, which is better equipped than the Batticaloa Hospital, where they were treated earlier. Over 760 seriously injured IDPs have already been admitted to the Trincomalee Hospital. According to hospital sources some IDPs are suffering from serious respiratory tract complications and many others have sustained serious injuries. more..

He practices not what he preaches

Feb 18 (Island) Water Supply Minister Mahinda Amaraweera yesterday asked people to reduce their water consumption until the rains come. The use of pipe water has increased with the prevailing weather condition. Some people use drinking water for their gardens too, he said. "There would be a war for water resources in the near future. But, there is no water scarcity in Sri Lanka yet. We have enough water and one day it would be our main foreign income earner. more..

'Only dialogue can bring peace in Lanka'

Feb 18 (Rediff) The ongoing war between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE cannot be a solution to the ethnic conflict in the island nation and only a negotiated settlement will bring lasting peace in the nation, former president Chandrika Kumaratunga said in New Delhi on Tuesday. Asked about the current situation in Sri Lanka, she told "We are deeply concerned by the killings of innocent civilians." more..

Pottuvil Massacre: Witness says Tamilchelvam denied LTTE involvement

Feb 18 (DM) The witness had received telephone calls from prominent members of the LTTE, the witness said at the CoI to investigate and inquire into violations of human rights, of which the Pottuvil Massacre is a case. “Tamilchelvam called me and said the LTTE was not behind the killing of the 10 youth,” the witness said. According to the witness, he had been told by a LTTE regional leader Jaya that he was to expect a call from Kilinochchi and the caller had identified himself as Tamilchelvam. more..

CEA Chairman resigning to contest WPC polls

Feb 18 (DM) Central Environmental Authority (CEA) Chairman Udaya Gammanpila yesterday formally announced he would resign from his post after his nomination for the Western Provincial Council next Tuesday. Mr. Gammanpila said that although the Constitution did not require him to resign from office as a pre requisite to contest an election, he decided he would do so to ensure at least on his part a level playing field. more..

Tamils in US to protest Lanka 'genocide'

Feb 18 (PTI) Tamils in the US will hold a demonstration in front of the state department and the White House here on Friday protesting against the "genocide" against their community in Sri Lanka. 'Tamils Against Genocide', a pro-Tamils organisation, will organise a rally and hunger strike to urge US President Barack Obama to bring an end to the "genocide" in northern Sri Lanka, where the Army and LTTE are engaged in a war. more..

Tamil MPs stall parliament over Pranab's LTTE remark

Feb 18 (TOI) Angry MPs of the MDMK and PMK created uproar in the Lok Sabha Wednesday in support of Sri Lankan Tamils, forcing Speaker Somnath Chatterjee to adjourn the house for 25 minutes. Foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee had said that the LTTE had caused "much damage" to the Tamil community and that it should lay down arms as there is a political opportunity after 23 years to restore normalcy in northern parts of the island nation. more..

India offers Sri Lanka evacuation

Feb 18 (BBC) India has said it ready to help in the evacuation of tens of thousands of civilians caught up in the fighting in Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee also told parliament the Tamil Tiger rebels had "done much damage" to the Tamil community and should lay down arms. The UN and Red Cross have expressed deep concern for the trapped civilians. The Sri Lankan navy has escorted a new convoy of food to the area but it is only a fraction of what is needed. more..

Colombo plans sea rescue of thousands from war zone

Feb 18 (AFP) Sri Lanka is considering a sea evacuation of tens of thousands of civilians trapped inside its war zone, officials said yesterday as a government ally said there was a spike in non-combatant deaths. Some 80,000 civilians remain inside the northern Wanni region, where government troops have cornered the Tigers into a narrow strip along the northeastern shores. “We are looking at all options, including a sea evacuation to bring the people out,” more..

'LTTE has done damage to Lankan Tamils'

Feb 18 (Rediff) Denouncing the LTTE, India said the outfit had caused 'much damage' to the Tamil community and it should lay down arms, as there is a political opportunity after 23 years to restore normalcy in northern parts of the island nation. External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said India remains concerned over the safety and welfare of civilians caught in the conflict, most of them Tamils, and is ready to facilitate their evacuation. more..

Red Cross sends food aid to war zone

Feb 18 (AP) Sri Lankan naval boats accompanied an emergency Red Cross shipment of food aid for tens of thousands of civilians trapped in the northeastern war zone Wednesday as the Tamil Tiger rebels once again appealed for a halt to the war and a new round of peace talks. Government forces — pledging to end the quarter-century civil war — have pushed the rebels to the brink of defeat in recent weeks, seizing their strongholds across the north and trapping them in a 39-square mile strip of land along the coast. more..

Sri Lanka rejects truce call as fighting escalates

Feb 18 (AFP) Sri Lanka's government on Wednesday rejected fresh calls for a truce with Tamil Tigers as troops took another village from rebel control and concern mounted for civilians trapped in the war zone. Defence spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said the government was firmly committed to wiping out "terrorism" and described the demand for a ceasefire from a Tamil Tiger proxy as "laughable". "We have taken a policy decision to completely root out terrorism," more..

Give up your weapons, India tells LTTE

Feb 18 (IANS) India Wednesday unveiled its intention to play a proactive role in Sri Lanka by asking the Tamil Tigers to give up their weapons and said it was ready to work with Colombo to evacuate civilians caught up in the war zone. Under pressure to act following widespread reports of civilian suffering in fighting between the military and the Tigers, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told the Lok Sabha that India was also ready to assist in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Sri Lanka's war-hit northeast. more..

Australia announces $4 mn humanitarian assistance

Feb 19 (IANS) Australia Wednesday announced an additional four million dollars (Australian) for humanitarian assistance for the war-hit civilians in the island’s north. The Australian High Commissioner Kathy Klugman said that the new funding would be provided to the ICRC “for protection and essential humanitarian support, and to United Nations agencies working with the Sri Lankan government to provide emergency shelter, water and sanitation and for humanitarian relief supplies for the Vanni”. more..

CBC Interview with Sonali Samarasinghe

Feb 19 (CBC) A little over a month ago, Lasantha Wickramatunga was on his way to work in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. Just minutes from his office, he was stopped by four men on military-style motorcycles. They smashed through the window of his car and beat him severely. He died several hours later. Lasantha Wickramatunga was the high-profile editor of the Sri Lankan newspaper, The Sunday Leader. He had a long history of questioning the Sri Lankan Government. more..

Foolish Tamilnet lets the cat out of the bag

Feb 19 (LG) Today’s is a very interesting reading material. In its determination to attack the UN and find fault with it, foolishly it exposed how the LTTE is holding hostage – in its count more that 250,000 people – the horrendous situation in which they are being kept and brutalized apart from forcible recruitment of children. It also lies to high heavens that only NGO functioning there is the TRO. more..

'Sri Lanka to trim contribution to multilateral projects'

Feb 19 (LBO) Sri Lanka is hoping to push through foreign funded projects which have been held up due to lack of 'counterparty funds', with a lower contribution from the government, a senior minister said. Deputy finance minister Sarath Amunugama said there were "a lot of projects" awaiting a 15 percent government contribution, and the Asian Development Bank, Sri Lanka's top donor after Japan, had said "10 percent might do." more..

JDCSI’s two children homes destroyed

Feb 19 (LG) Relief workers in Wanni face Herculean tasks to help fleeing civilians, and never ever before has Sri Lanka faced such a horrendous nightmarish situation. Those in the areas of conflict involved in relief work do so at great risks to their lives. It is not only a question of meeting the needs of the victims but also addressing ourselves to their rehabilitation physically and emotionally. more..

Sri Lankan army resorts to suicide bombing

Feb 19 (LG) Sources close to the Sri Lankan military confirm they have resorted to suicide bombing against the oncoming LTTE fighters, who eventually over-ran the 59th division south of PTK (Puthukudiyiruppu). A Sri Lankan soldier, Cpt Pushpakumara, told his senior officers to pull back with the remaining men, while he went forward attaching claymore mines to his body. There is no information as to whether his suicide strike was successful or not. more..

The bitter road from Vadukoddai to Mullativu

Feb 19 (LG) Mullativu – the last pocket held by the Tamil Tigers – illustrates without any ambiguity the failure and the tragedy of Jaffna-centric politics. First, the over-ambitious and misguided political leaders of Jaffna who passed the Vadukoddai Resolution raised hopes of a separate state only for the Tamils. They endorsed violence as the means of achieving it. Mullativu marks the disastrous end to the massive violent assault to break up the Sri Lankan state. more..

Elections explode more myths

Feb 19 (LG) Not many years ago, it was stated by political pundits that it was impossible to win an election without the support of the so called minorities - a term coined by the British. In addition the pundits pointed out that devolution of power was essential, as Prabhakaran and the LTTE were invincible and hence to attract the so called moderate Tamils a devolution package was necessary. more..

I have a dream

Feb 19 (LG) So the defence forces have discovered a seventh airstrip in Tiger territory. With the existing 11 in this tiny island, that makes a total of 18! Obviously, six of these ‘rogue’ airstrips were so well camouflaged that they escaped detection by the SLAF. Iranamadu was the red herring that attracted all the SLAF’s bombs. But the other airstrips could have been detected - and destroyed - if SLAF aircraft got airborne when the LTTE’s ‘mosquito fleet’ was flying over the south at night, more..

'Children suffering the most in conflict'

Feb 19 (IRIN) Just nine years old, Thevaki was trapped in the crossfire between government forces and the LTTE and barely escaped with her life. "I don't remember anything. I just remember the blood," she said, gesturing to the bandaged shrapnel wound on her head. After six days in a government hospital in Vavuniya - a humanitarian hub for more than 30,000 ethnic Tamil civilians fleeing southward - she is back with her family in one of 16 transit sites in the northern Sri Lankan town. more..

Mathews 270 powers Basnahira North to innings win

Feb 19 (CI) Angelo Mathews' gradual rise on the domestic circuit continued when he steered Basnahira North to a comprehensive innings-and-56-run win against Kandurata at the SSC during the opening weekend of the inter-provincial tournament. Mathews' 270, coupled with Ian Daniel's composed 116 helped Basnahira North run up a massive score of 563 for 8, after dismissing Kandurata for 262 in the first innings. more..

Lankan servicemen thrill with song

Feb 19 (GT) SRI Lankans in Qatar turned out in force for a performance by the Ranaviruvo Api Wenuwen Api (Be Together For All) musical group of soldiers when they performed at two shows at the Doha Cinema last Friday. The programme organised by the Sri Lankan embassy along with the Sri Lankan Co-ordinating Committee (SLCC) was held to mark Sri Lanka’s 61st Independence Day, which was on February 4. more..

Narayana Murthy quits as IT advisor to Lanka

Feb 19 (PTI) Within days of his appointment as International Advisor on Information Technology to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, IT czar N R Narayana Murthy on Wednesday quit from the post citing personal reasons. In a letter to Rajapaksa, Murthy, chief mentor of Infosys Technologies, said he has decided to withdraw from being the advisor due to personal reasons but did not elaborate. more..

Sri Lanka ’s twin despair

Feb 19 (EB) The focus now is rightly on the civilians in the Vanni dying and being injured, caught between the LTTE’s determination to use them as a buffer and as corpses in statistics, and a government intent on crushing the Tigers with the free use of heavy weapons. The civilians have not been given a meaningful way out. The glass case behind which these helpless civilians were held and paraded as willing martyrs for the Tiger cause, with the connivance of an articulate expatriate lobby, is being shattered, more..

Sri Lanka starts negotiations with banks on oil derivatives

Feb 19 (LBO) Sri Lanka is starting a round of talks with several banks to re-negotiate oil derivatives sold to a state-run petroleum firm which had gone against the utility, a government minister said. The first round of negotiations would start Wednesday afternoon. "We are talking to the banks today," deputy finance minister Sarath Amunugama said. "That is all that can be said at the moment." more..

Sri Lankan Airlines wins IndiGo maintenance deal

Feb 19 (LBO) Sri Lankan Airlines said its engineering arm has been awarded a major contract by IndiGo to carry out a series of important maintenance checks on the fast-growing Indian carrier's aircraft fleet. The work will be done by Sri Lankan Engineering, the aircraft maintenance arm of Sri Lanka's national airline, at it main hangar complex at the Bandaranaike International Airport north of Colombo, a company statement said. more..

'World’s highest electricity rates are in Sri Lanka'

Feb 19 (LT) The world’s highest charges for electricity are in Sri Lanka and it is unsustainable said Minister of Enterprise Development & Investment Promotion Sarath Amunugama. The charges for electricity is very high and all parties should enter a dialogue regarding the basic issues confronted by the country said Minister Amunugama. He said Sri Lanka could be developed very easily adding when the oil reserves are used and development of the North commences a 10% economic growth could be expected. more..

'Local industries wrecked due to plundering economic policy'

Feb 19 (LT) There were three main pillars which contributed to the economy of the country. They were tea, rubber and coconut. However, due to ravaging economic policies not only tea, rubber and coconut industries but all local industries have collapsed said JVP MP Premasiri Manage. He said, “The main reason for the breakdown of coconut industry was the import of ‘palm oil.’ Only when things went out of hand the government started to impose restrictions. more..

Official: Sri Lanka fighting kills 38 civilians

Feb 19 (AP) Government artillery attacks and air raids inside Sri Lanka's northern war zone killed at least 38 civilians Wednesday and wounded 140 others, the area's top health official said. Dr. Thurairaja Varatharajah said 13 members of one extended family were killed in their sleep early Wednesday when artillery shells exploded on their home in a village inside a government designated "safe zone" in rebel-held territory. more..

‘transitional’ villages are planned to house IDPs for short stay

Feb 19 (AT) Taking Norway and Britain for harping upon the same old ceasefire tune, Senior Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa made it clear that for Sri Lanka government immediate priority was rehabilitation of traumatized people emerging out of LTTE clutches. Chinese model of rehabilitation was being adopted to quickly settle the displaced families in 'transitional' village, he told Asian Tribune in an interview. more..

Sri Lankans lose despite Sangakkara ton

Feb 19 (CI) The Sri Lankans fell 112 runs short of their target in the two day warm-up match against Patron's XI despite Kumar Sangakkara's century. Chasing a target of 396 in their allotted quota of 90 overs, the visitors finished the second day in Karachi on 283 for 5. The run-chase got off to a rocky start with the Sri Lankans losing openers Malinda Warnapura and Tharanga Paranavitana with only 26 runs on the board. more..

6th of March-The exposition of the sacred Tooth Relic

Feb 19 (LP) An exposition of the sacred Tooth Relic will be held at the Temple of the Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Malligawa) in Kandy. The exposition will be held for 10 days and it will commence on the 06th of March till the 16th of March said Diyawadana Nilame, Nilanga Dela Bandara. It was revealed in a media briefing held at the Dalada Malligawa yesterday (17), that the exposition will be fully sponsored by the state. more..

Tamil diaspora doctors prepared to enter Vanni, demand access

Feb 19 (TN) Doctors organised in charity and aid organisations in Australia and Norway have urged their foreign ministries, United Nations Secretary General and the ICRC to secure urgent permission from Sri Lankan authorities to facilitate safe passage of their convoy of doctors and medical supplies. Dr. V. Manomohan, the president of Australian Medical Aid Foundation (AMAF) and Dr. T. Sivakanesan, the coordinator of Norwegian Tamils Health Organistaion (NTHO) said Wednesday that more..

India offers ‘final thrust’ for ‘subjugation’ of Tamils

Feb 19 (TN) Accusing the Tigers for committing damages to the Tamil community and calling them for laying down arms and releasing the civilians, the Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee in Indian Parliament on Wednesday offered India’s facilitation to evacuate civilians, working along with the Colombo government and the ICRC, who would be responsible for the security, screening and rehabilitation of them, BBC reported. more..

Foreign Minister briefs diplomatic community on the current situation in the North

Feb 19 (LG) Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama has urged the international community to exert its utmost pressure on the LTTE to free the civilians who are being held captive in the North and release the innocent children who have been forcibly recruited into their combat ranks. He made this call while addressing the Diplomatic Corps based in Colombo at the Foreign Ministry today (18 February 2009). more..

Political realities and political solution to the ethnic problem

Feb 19 (LG) While the fundamental contradiction of human history has been that between barbarism and civilisation which seems to define the historical process, the upper hand of barbarism during the last two centuries has paralysed our abilities to comprehend and resolve many problems of governance which were solved harmoniously in ancient times. Normative structuralism that characterises civilisations and civilisational process, to which barbarism shows such aversion, has become an irrelevant aspect in good governance. more..

UN Under-Secretary-General Sir John Holmes to visit Sri Lanka

Feb 19 (LG) President Mahinda Rajapaksa has requested the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to arrange a visit to Sri Lanka by one of his colleagues with a view to familiarize himself with the initiatives undertaken by the Government of Sri Lanka to address the humanitarian needs of civilians and IDPs held hostage by the LTTE in the North of Sri Lanka. more..