Offers more troops for UN missions

SLA Chief visits New York, Haiti


By Shamindra Ferdinando

Sri Lanka is ready to deploy additional troops under UN command depending on the ground requirement. Army headquarters told The Island that specially trained troops were available for deployment at short notice should the UNrequire them.

SLA Chief Lt. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya, during recent visits to New York and Haiti, explored the possibility of having more slots for SL troops.

Lt. Gen. Jayasuriya undertook the tour in the wake of Sri Lanka’s No 2 at the UN Maj. Gen. Shavendra Silva declaring SLA’s readiness to increase its troop commitment to UN missions.

The SLA Chief toured Haiti, where a 950-strong contingent of troops is deployed in support of UN operations. The deployment comprises small contingents from the SLN and SLAF. Since deployment in the Caribbean in 2004, the SL contingent has earned praise for acting swiftly and decisively against armed criminal elements.

The contingent is spearheaded by Gajaba troops, commanded by Col. Jaliya Senarathna.

Lt. Gen. Jayasuriya arrived in Haiti on Sept. 20 from New York. During his visit to New York, the SLA chief met three senior UN Peacekeeping officials, including the acting Head of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

Haiti Commander Maj. Gen. Luiz Eduardo Ramos explained the current deployment and difficulties experienced by his troops, including those contributed by Sri Lanka. Ramos also acknowledged that there had been a steady increase in criminal activity, in spite of counter measures taken by his troops.

Brigadier Nirmal Dharmarathna, Director Operations at Army Headquarters, Colombo, was associated in the discussion.

Acting Special Representative of the UN Secretary General and Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary General Nigel Fisher, while appreciating Sri Lanka’s contribution to UN efforts, inquired about the possibility of Sri Lanka contributing women soldiers for UN missions.

The SLA chief briefed Fisher, a former head of UNICEF in Sri Lanka, on the rehabilitation of ex-LTTE combatants undertaken by the Sri Lankan military. SLA headquarters said that an offer was made by Lt. Gen. Jayasuriya to share Sri Lanka’s experience with the UN.

The SLA chief is also scheduled to visit Lebanon.

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