'Appeasing Tamil flood victims best chance for Sri Lanka to improve maligned image'

Colombo, Jan 15 (ANI): In the wake of the recent floods in parts of the country, many political observers are of the opinion that the Sri Lankan Government could improve its image damaged by war crimes allegations, by undertaking reconciliation measures for the safety of the Tamil minorities in the country.

The Christian Science Monitor quoted Jennifer Hyndman, a professor at the Center for Refugee Studies at York University in Canada, as saying that although the Sri Lankan Government had won its fight against the the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), it is yet to establish peace in the country. She believes that handling the flood disaster could help repair the decades of mistrust between the minority and the Government.

"This has been a part of the world which has been hit so hard. I think the government has a chance to impress the people affected by this disaster as well as much of the world and prove it is not dispossessing its Tamil people," she added.

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who has faced embarrassment in the international arena over the war crimes allegations and the alleged malfunction of his Government over the matter, is reportedly trying to win hearts of the country's Tamil minorities affected by recent flooding, by undertaking reconciliation measures for their safety.

"The relief operations are going ahead and I have told the officials to ensure that there are no delays in distributing aid," the Christian Science Monitor quoted Rajapaksa, as saying on Friday.

As of now, flooding in Sri Lanka has reportedly affected over a million people, many of them minority Tamils whose community recently lost a decades-long separatist fight.

The paper quoted the Ministry of Disaster Management as saying that 27 people have been killed, and nearly 20,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed so far.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan military that has been carrying out rescue operations, has claimed that it has rescued over 450 civilians as of Thursday. It also said that troops are distributing food and building temporary shelters for over 350,000 displaced people.

In May 2009, Sri Lanka on Monday formally announced the end of war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam after chief V Prabhakaran was shot dead while trying to flee in an ambulance from the war zone in the northern part of the country. (ANI)

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