UN chief tells Sri Lanka to release civilian land held by military

COLOMBO, Sept. 2 (Xinhua) — UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday urged Sri Lanka to release civilian land held by the military.
Ban Ki-moon, who is on the final leg of his visit to Sri Lanka, urged Sri Lanka to speed up the return of land so that the remaining communities of displaced people can return home.
In parallel, he said, the size of the military force in the North and East could be reduced, helping to build trust and reduce tensions.
He made the remarks at an event in Sri Lanka on sustaining peace and achieving sustainable development goals.
The UN chief said that following the end of the war in Sri Lanka in 2009, much has been done but yet more remains.
“This is my first visit to Sri Lanka since 2009, when I saw great suffering and hardship. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced and in need of humanitarian aid after the terrible conflict that tore the country apart. I called for fast reconciliation and action to build peace, in the knowledge that conflict can recur in fragile post-war societies,” he said.
Ban said that the government that took office last year, led by President Maithripala Sirisena, set out an ambitious reform program and has made significant progress in implementing it.
“I congratulate the government and people of Sri Lanka on passing the 19th Constitutional Amendment and the recent Right to Information Act. I commend your efforts to move forward on a comprehensive transitional justice agenda, and on a constitutional reform process,” he said.
Ban said that more can and should be done to address the legacy of the past and acknowledge the voices of the victims.
He said Sri Lanka is still in the early stages of regaining its rightful position in the region and the international community.

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