Bridging the gap

Delegation of Sri Lankan MPs in LondonLast month International Alert facilitated a visit by a group of young cross-party Sri Lankan MPs to London, as part of an ongoing effort to strengthen engagement with Sri Lankan diaspora communities in the UK.

The delegation (pictured right) met with a cross-community group of Sri Lankan diaspora members to get a better understanding about their views on the situation in Sri Lanka and to discuss effective ways to obtain their support in facilitating reconciliation efforts in the country.

The MPs also met with the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the UK His Excellency Dr Chris Nonis, officials from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and a group of UK local government councillors of Sri Lankan origin.

During the meetings, the young politicians shared examples of the positive impact that previous visits have had in bridging the gap between the diaspora community in the UK and politicians and professionals in Sri Lanka, and in changing perceptions in both countries. They also discussed their views on the post-war reconciliation and recovery efforts and current situation in Sri Lanka.

In addition to the community meetings, the politicians participated in capacity-building sessions designed to support their engagement with diaspora communities. This included a workshop on problem-solving dialogue and negotiations skills.

The delegation included politicians from a variety of political parties, including MPs Vasantha Senanayake and Shehan Semasinghe from the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, MP Hunais Farook from the All Ceylon Muslim Congress, MPs Harin Fernando and Niroshan Perera from the United National Party, and Raghu Balachandran representing the Tamil National Alliance.

The visit took place from 20-27 January and is part of our ‘Supporting post-war reconciliation in Sri Lanka’ project. Find out more about this project here.

Pictured, from left to right: Raghu Balachandran (TNA), MP Hunais Farook (ACMC), MP Vasantha Senanayake (SLFP), MP Shehan Semasinghe (SLFP), MP Harin Fernando, MP Niroshan Perera (UNP) and Ameer M. Faaiz (One-Text Initiative).