Co-operative condolences to Sri Lanka after terrorist attacks

Messages have come from the Co-operative College, the ICA and Co-operatives Europe

The global co-operative community has been sending messages of condolences to Sri Lanka following the coordinated terrorist attacks on 21 April 2019 in which 359 people were killed and at least 500 were injured.

The first co-operative society in the country was set up in 1904 and its first co-operative law enacted in 1911. The Sri Lanka civil war (1983-2009) and the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami caused substantial damage to the co-operative movement, but the country is now home to over 14,500 co-operatives in sectors including banking, insurance, agriculture and retail.

The UK’s Co-operative College has run training programmes in Sri Lanka, in consultation with local partners, to help co-operative development in the north of the country – and in 2016 the country announced its first ever Co-operatives Week, recognising the work done by co-ops in building up the economy.

The College tweeted: “As Sri Lanka comes together for a day of mourning, we’d like to send our condolences to all those affected by the terrible events. As an organisation that has worked extensively there, we know that it’s a country full of wonderful, kind and compassionate people.”

In a statement, the International Co-operative Alliance-Asia and Pacific said: “Our deepest sympathy and solidarity to friends, colleagues and co-operators in Sri Lanka. On behalf of co-operatives, and the Global Youth Forum team, we stand with you during this difficult time. We are closely monitoring the situation on the ground and are in contact with our partners & friends.”

ICA-AP regional director, Balasubramanian Iyer, added that while his organisation had heard from a couple of members, “they are still coming out of shock, but so far none of them have reported any casualties”.

Cooperatives Europe tweeted: “Our thoughts go out to our colleagues in @ICAAPAC, and communities and people affected at this sad time in Sri Lanka.”

Sri Lanka is due to host the 2019 Co-operative Global Youth Forum in the capital, Colombo, from 22-26 July.

A statement from the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), which is organising the event, said that following the attacks it was was “currently monitoring the situation on the ground and in close contact with our partners”. The ICA hopes to confirm if the event is still going ahead by next week (29 April 2019).

My Iyer added: “It is early days and we need to see how the situation evolves. I am hoping things will settle down. We hope to have a meeting with our members to take stock and provide guidance. The GYF is three months away, so I would keep my fingers crossed and hope things stay on track.”

The ICA tweeted on behalf of the Global Youth Forum, saying: “The Global Youth Forum team extends its deepest sympathies to fellow co-operators in Sri Lanka. We are closely monitoring the situation on ground. Please submit your messages for peace at [email protected] and we’ll send them to our GYF 19 partners.”

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