Brussels steps up its support for counter-terrorism activities in Sri Lanka
The European Commission, through its instrument for contributing to stability and peace, has allocated €8.5 million to support Sri Lanka in its efforts to prevent violent extremism and promote peace efforts on the island nation.
The move comes after a meeting earlier this month between the EU’s Foreign Affairs chief, Federica Mogherini, and Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana, the former underlined the EU’s readiness to support Sri Lanka in its effort to fight terrorism.
Three churches and three luxury hotels in Sri Lanka’s commercial capital Colombo were targeted in a series of coordinated terrorist suicide bombings in April. The attacks killed 258 people and were later blamed on followers of ISIS and the National Thowheeth Jama’ath, a local Islamist terror group that has regularly threatened Sri Lanka’s Buddhists, Hindus, and Christians – the country’s three largest religious groups.
Responding to terrorist attacks is an additional challenge for Sri Lanka after decades of bloody conflict between the Hindu and Buddhist communities. The challenge of settling its refugees and displaced persons, as well as de-mining operations, continue to sap resources from the cash-strapped central government.
Europe’s €8.5 million of support will help boost the Sri Lankan authorities’ ability to respond to terrorist threats, while at the same time giving them the means to focus on the prevention of extremism via partnerships with global social media actors.