Caritas Supports Peace Efforts in Sri Lanka

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, DEC. 1, 2004 ( Caritas Internationalis has been supporting a national peace program in Sri Lanka, aimed at preventing future conflict in a country exhausted by two decades of civil war.

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To the loss of 65,000 lives and the extensive damage done to homes and the public infrastructure must be added the distrust between differing ethnic and religious communities, «one of the deepest scars left by the conflict,» notes the Catholic organization.

Caritas-Sri Lanka has been running a peace program since 1999 on a modest budget. Since then, it has expanded its activities to more areas of the island and increased its contacts among new communities.

This year, the local Caritas organized various events to maintain and strengthen the program, including student and youth peace conventions and interfaith encounters.

Last week, Caritas Internationalis launched a $400,000 appeal to fund planned program activities in 2005.

Included in these activities are seminars and workshops dedicated to understanding peace as a human right, seeking nonviolent solutions to conflicts, and mobilizing participants to be active champions of their country’s peace process.

These events will be offered, among others, to children and youth, grass-roots groups, government officials, released child-soldiers, local religious leaders, and teachers.

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