COLOMBO – US Ambassador Julie J. Chung who concluded a 4-day visit to Jaffna on Wednesday (27), said that she had gained a much better understanding of the impact of the war and the human rights concerns as well as the current economic situation in the North.
“It was essential to me to visit the North early in my tenure as Ambassador,” Chung after her after her maiden visit to the northern Sri Lanka as ambassador, adding that during the visit she explored the history of the region and heard from people first-hand about their challenges and opportunities.
While in Jaffna, Chung had courtesy calls with the Northern Province Governor and the Commander of Security Forces Headquarters Jaffna to discuss the political and security situation in the North during the current economic crisis. She also engaged with civil society and met with families of missing and disappeared persons.
A statement from the US embassy in Colombo said that Chung, underscoring the importance of the ongoing efforts towards justice and accountability towards national reconciliation and unity, had discussed human rights and governance challenges with Tamil politicians.
She had also met with representatives of diverse religious communities and visited sites of worship to underscore the importance of religious pluralism in Sri Lanka.
Chung also spoke with representatives of the business community to learn about their current challenges and efforts towards economic recovery, the statement said, noting that the ambassador had highlighted the potential for Diaspora investment to develop local business.
The ambassador had also visited a US-funded demining project that makes land viable for local communities and met with faculty members of the University of Jaffna to discuss their new peacebuilding degree program and the Ambassadors’ Fund for Cultural Preservation grants for the Archaeological Museum Laboratory. She had also visited a US-funded palm leaves manuscript conservation project at the Jaffna Library.
Before she returned to Colombo, Chung had met with local youth leaders at the American Corner in Jaffna to learn about their perspectives on a path forward towards an inclusive and prosperous future for all Sri Lankans.
The Jaffna visit was Ambassador Chung’s second official trip outside the Colombo area. Her first trip was to the Kandy region. She looks forward to visiting many more parts of the country over the coming months, the statement added.