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Sri Lanka floods provide chance for government, Tamil reconciliation

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Tamils suspicious of government intents

Since defeating the separatists in 2009, the government has undertaken few reconciliation measures, she says. Much of the focus has been rebuilding highways in an effort to foster economic reintegration and development.

Even that effort has been met with some suspicion, with rumors circulating that it’s designed to open up the tourist development potential of the east to the Sinhalese majority.

Meanwhile, government officials provoked ethnic divisions by pressuring Tamil-speaking students to sing the national anthem in the Sinhala language.

Floods displace 350,000

Now the floods have captured the attention of the nation, as well as international relief groups. The continued rains have prompted warnings from aid organizations that the situation will worsen. So far, 27 people have died and nearly 20,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed. The Ministry of Disaster Management provided updates on its website.

The Sri Lankan military has been dispatched to help with rescue and relief operations. The Army says it has rescued more than 450 civilians as of Thursday and prevented the breach of several lake levies. Troops are also distributing food and building temporary shelters for displaced people, which now number more than 350,000.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa told reporters Friday in Colombo the government is sparing no expense. “The relief operations are going ahead and I have told the officials to ensure that there are no delays in distributing aid.”

Rajapaksa spurred to talk about 'political solution'

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