Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs at the US State Department William (Bill) E. Todd began talks in Sri Lanka today.
The US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Atul Keshap said that Todd will discuss the bilateral agenda with Government leaders and civil society in Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, the multinational team led by U.S. Pacific Command concluded their week-long assistance program in Jaffna, providing general medical care for approximately 4000 people and renovating six schools that serve a total of 1100 students.
“I want to thank all the members of Operation Pacific Angel for not just improving lives of Jaffna-area residents through better schools and free access to health care, but also on strengthening U.S.-Sri Lanka ties,” said U.S. Ambassador Atul Keshap.
Approximately 70 participants from the U.S. Pacific Command and military experts from Bangladesh, Nepal, and Maldives joined with the Sri Lanka Air Force during the project. Free medical assistance for dental procedures, physical therapy, general care, and optometry were held at Idaikkadu Maha Vidyalayam (August 15-17) and Punguduthivu Sri Subramaniya Vidyalayam (August 19-20).
“The great thing about being here is our doctors get to help patients from different backgrounds,” said Lt. Col. Edward Khim, the mission commander for Pacific Angel. “Our engineers are also able to share knowledge while working with different countries’ forces to restore facilities in the area.”
The week-long program continues the strong U.S. support for the people of Sri Lanka, especially in communities most affected by conflict. In the Northern Province, ongoing United States Agency for International Development (USAID) initiatives give financial and technical assistance to small- and medium-sized businesses for families working in fishing, poultry and dairy sectors to help increase their incomes and provide food security.
Many of these projects focus on helping those who need it most: war widows, female heads of households, resettled families, people with disabilities, and survivors of gender-based violence. Over the past three years, the Embassy has also invested approximately $3.5 million to build new facilities for schools and hospitals in the Northern Province.
Planning for the Jaffna program began in November 2015 to identify the specific needs of communities in the North. Operation Pacific Angel is a joint civil-military operation led by U.S. Pacific Air Forces to build relationships with other countries in the event of future humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts. Together with host nation military and civilian personnel throughout the region, it has improved the lives of tens of thousands of people.
“Participating in Pacific Angel has opened my eyes to the wonderful culture of Sri Lanka,” said Tech. Sgt. Maybelle McKinney-Martin, 35th Medical Group physical therapy flight chief. “Learning how to communicate has been a difficult but very rewarding challenge. Just being able to help the Sri Lankan community alongside other nations has been a wonderful experience.”