Wednesday, November 29, 2006

US Ambassador Black visits Ampara District

American Ambassador Robert O. Black Jr. recently undertook a two day tour of Ampara District to assess the progress of projects implemented by USAID in this region. Ambassador Black was accompanied by the Counselor for Press and Cultural Affairs Terry J. White, USAID’s Regional Programme Manager for Ampara Bill Barkle, along with embassy officials.Their first visit Thursday was to Pottuvil, where they inspected the reconstruction of the Arugambay Bridge that was destroyed by the tsunami. On Friday, the Ambassador declared the Children’s Recreation site at Akkaraipattu Ayesha Bhalika Mahavidyalaya open. Afterwards they traveled to the village of Oluvil where the villagers are engaged in various livelihood projects. Ambassador Black spoke with villagers and assessed their project progress. Following this, there was a gathering of INGOs, NGOs, and Government Officials at Sainthamaruthu Sea Breeze that generated much discussion.

Finally, the Ambassador met with journalists representing all three communities in the District. This meeting took place at the Ampara USAID Office where there was a briefing on the activities of USAID in Sri Lanka, and in Ampara District in particular. Ambassador Black revealed that $30 million US has been set apart by the United States in order to go ahead with development projects in various parts of Ampara District. In response to a question raised by a local journalist, Ambassador Black said that he would try to pressure the government to appoint an independent commission to inquire into the assassinations of politicians that are taking place in Sri Lanka.

US Embassy Officials, including Programme Officers T. Muralitharan and S. Gayani, and Officials from Internews Network were also present at the press briefing.