On the 6th of May 2024, The Ambassador Her Excellency Mrs. May-Elin Stener, representing Norway as the Ambassador to India and Sri Lanka, paid a significant visit to Caritas Jaffna. Accompanied by Mr. Johan Thomas Bjerkem, Second Secretary at the Royal Norwegian Embassy, Her Excellency Ambassador Mrs. Stener engaged in a constructive dialogue with Rt. Rev. Dr. Justin Bernard Gnanapragasam, His Lordship, Bishop of the Diocese of Jaffna and Chairman of the National Catholic Commission for Justice, Peace, and Human Development.

Central to the discussions were the pressing political landscape in Sri Lanka, social challenges within the Jaffna Peninsula, interreligious tensions, and the imperative for religious harmony. Distinguished guests included Rev. Fr. Luke Nelson Perera, the National Director of Caritas Sri Lanka – SEDEC, Rev. Fr. S Eugene Francis, the Diocesan Director in Jaffna, and Mrs. Nilani Tissera, the National Coordinator of the Food Security Program. This gathering made a significant enduring commitment to a positive transformation and collaboration between Caritas Norway/ NORAD and its Sri Lankan counterpart.

The meeting commenced with a presentation by Mrs. Nilani Tissera, the National Coordinator, who highlighted the vital role of the Food Security project, supported by Caritas Norway/NOARD, this initiative aims to alleviate hunger and poverty among the selected most vulnerable communities in all 25 Administrative districts while empowering individuals to advocate for their rights and foster community resilience.

Rt. Rev. Bishop Gnanapragasam shed light on key issues plaguing the Jaffna Peninsula, ranging from educational disparities to challenges in the fishing and agricultural sectors. Emphasizing the pivotal role of religious harmony in fostering lasting peace, he highlighted the collaborative efforts of religious leaders in promoting understanding and unity through various cultural celebrations.

Rev. Fr. Eugene stressed the significance of initiatives like the Religious Amity Program in nurturing harmony and solidarity among religious leaders, youth, and children. He emphasized the program’s role in conducting training sessions, exposure visits, and festivals aimed at fostering interfaith understanding and cooperation. Concerns were also raised regarding the future of Norway’s support for such programs. Furthermore, Rev. Fr. Luke Nelson Perera, National Director expressed sincere appreciation for the unwavering support and dedication of the Norwegian government in addressing the innumerable challenges faced by the people of Sri Lanka.