Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar briefed the Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik who is on a two-day visit here, on the ongoing relief work and reconstruction plans of the government.
Conveying Austria’s condolences on the heavy losses suffered by Sri Lanka the visiting FM regretted that the first visit by an Austrian FM was under such sad circumstances. She said there had been an unprecedented outpouring of public sympathy in Austria and thanked the Sri Lankan government and public for helping Austrian tourists during the disaster.
Minister Kadirgamar outlined the areas still needing attention such as training in trauma counseling, sanitation, housing, fishing industry, care for pregnant mothers in the affected areas, rehabilitation of affected children and the reconstruction of infrastructure and tourism.
The Austrian FM said her country was interested in helping with the reconstruction of schools, railway lines, houses, and helping the fisheries and tourism industries. She noted the need for trauma counseling and expressed her readiness to explore the possibility of providing assistance in that area.
Minister Plassnik further said the Austrian Red Cross was already involved in a housing project in Koggala, Habaraduwa for which they had raised around six million euro from the Austrian public. She said they would be reconstructing as many villages in the district as possible, including houses, schools, hospitals, police stations, post offices and other amenities.
All the material and labour for this project would be provided locally, while the project will be carried out by a small group from the Austrian Red Cross, which Minister Kadirgamar observed was a practical, realistic and encouraging approach to reconstruction.
With regard to children, the Austrian Foreign Minister stated that Austria was keen to support the affected children within their natural environment and would therefore look to support them through such projects as SOS villages etc.
As part of the more
long-term recovery strategy, the two sides agreed to review their bilateral
trade relations and explore ways of improving the tourism sector.
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