National Ethnic Unity Foundation (NEUF)

The NEUF uses environmental and business projects to create an everday peace among the former conflicting parties in Sri Lanka.

National Ethnic Unity Foundation (NEUF) stated working in the early 1990s and registered as a non-governmental organisation in 1996. They have 6 members of staff based in the office in Batticaloa and organised groups at the villages where they work.

In their early years, NEUF had worked to raise awareness about the need for a political solution to the conflict in Sri Lanka. In this regard, NEUF conducted awareness-raising programmes to promote unity and co-existence among the different ethnicities living in Ampara.

NEUF uses environmental and income issues as a bridging point to encourage businesses across ethnic boundaries.However, today NEUF believes that awareness raising programmes themselves are not sufficient to bring unity and co-existence amd has embraced a different working principle in the past years. Nowadays, NEUF works for peace by bringing together different ethnic groups to address social issues that affect all of them. Taking environmental and income issues as the gathering point, NEUF brings together Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim groups to work with each other. They form multi-ethnic committees of farmers and are encouraged to form businesses between different ethnic groups.

Creating a context for peacebuilding through social issues brings unity and co-existence into everyday practice, reducing the chances of a relapse into conflict.NEUF finds that community peacebuilding through this strategy is more productive and efficient than attitude change or awareness-raising programmes. They believe that peacebuilding can easily get caught up when it is addressed as an intellectual topic. Creating a context for peacebuilding through social issues brings unity and co-existence into everyday practice, reducing the chances of a relapse into conflict. Because the shared social issues are not related to ethnic difference, NEUF finds that people are more willing to work together with people from other ethnicities.

In this inter-ethnic cooperation which has not existed in the region for a long time, unity and co-existence between different ethnicities emerges for real.


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