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15 Aug, 2003

Various Paths To Peace

As both terrorism and the war on terrorism continue to exact a devastating toll on global travel & tourism, the search is on for alternative paths to peace. For those seriously interested in doing something, here is a choice.

1. VARIOUS PATHS TO PEACE: As both terrorism and the war on terrorism continue to exact a devastating toll on global travel & tourism, the search is on for alternative paths to peace. For those seriously interested in doing something, here is a choice. Take your pick.

2. SRI LANKA BECOMING DEPARTURE POINT FOR HUMAN SMUGGLING: Sri Lanka relaxed visa policies to attract tourists from South Asia. Along with the tourists came the human-smugglers and their ‘cargo’.



Becoming increasingly clear to many in the travel & tourism industry is the fact that if terrorism is a major cause of our problems, the reaction to it, the so-called “War on Terror”, is doing equal harm. At the same time, various peace movements are coming to the fore, with different outlooks and approaches.

If peace is too big an issue to be left to the politicians, those in this industry who care strongly enough about conflict alleviation and prevention can avail of a number of options to contribute to the cause. This dispatch of Newswire outlines at least three, with more to follow in future dispatches:


The Second Global Summit on Peace through Tourism held earlier this year in partnership with the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) featured participants from more than 50 countries including leaders from a broad range of related industry sectors such as culture, sport, environment and development, U.N. agencies and NGOs. The Summit was in support of the U.N. Decade of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World.

Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan was Royal Patron of the Summit and Sir Roger Moore, spokesperson for UNICEF, the keynote speaker. H.E. Akel Biltaji, Chief Commissioner, Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA), Jordan, was Master of Ceremonies.

Designed to come up with ways to contribute to a “Culture of Peace through Tourism”, the summit was organised by the International Institute of Peace through Tourism (IIPT). A summary of the summit’s broad-ranging discussions, including a number of proposals on how the media, academics and the travel industry can get involved in building peace, is available at: http://www.iipt.org/newsletter/June2003.html



Preparations are under way for the first World Youth Peace Summit to be held in Nairobi, Kenya, from October 23-28, 2004. The event is expected to bring together about 2,000 youth leaders representing business, government, religion, science, civil society, the arts and cultural communities in an effort to mobilise them “to play a more active role in conflict resolution and in global healing and reconciliation as never before.” It “aims to build a strong global network of young leaders committed to working for peace transcending national borders, cultures, and faith traditions.”

A direct result of a resolution issued by the Millennium World Peace Summit held at the UN headquarters in New York in August 2000, the Youth Peace Summit is designed to help youth leaders draw upon “the wisdom and experience of their eldersàto develop and promote mutual understanding, respect and harmony amongst youth to become a new generation of global leaders.”

Says Mr Bawa Jain, Chairman of the Summit, “The Youth Summit aims to develop a framework that celebrates similarities and rises above differences to build a sound foundation for the lasting future of peace in the next generation of leaders. The Youth Summit will introduce delegates to the resources and skills they will need to address the spectrum of global challenges today.”

Among its projected outcomes are a Youth Action Plan for World Peace, an International Youth Leadership Institute, a Global Internet University, and an extensive World Youth Peace Hotline Network, a multilingual network of youth leaders and organisations for post-summit follow up. In addition, the summit will launch an International Youth Advisory Council, to serve as a resource for the UN Secretary General, relevant government, international business and civil society in their efforts to resolve conflict.

The Summit will also establish awards to recognise outstanding youth or youth organisations for their innovative contributions to peace building. A contest is under way to design a logo for the summit. For further information, please see www.wyps.org



Anti-war demonstrations will take place around the world between September 25 and 28, organised by A.N.S.W.E.R., (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism). Demonstrations will take place on Sunday, September 28 in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, Seattle and other US cities. In Europe, the coordinated day of action will be on September 27 (see www.stopwar.org.uk), and in other areas it will be on September 25.

Also, on Saturday, October 25, people in the U.S., joined by delegations from countries around the world, will take to the streets to demand an “End to the Occupation (of Iraq), Bring the Troops Home Now!” Under the banner, “The World Unites Against U.S. Militarism,” the demonstration, marching from the Justice Department to the White House to the Pentagon, will also demand an end to the “looting and destruction of social programs” by the Bush Administration.

Says the anti-war group: “The (Bush) administration asserts there is never enough money to meet human needs but insists that there is no shortage of funds for war. The Bush administration will spend $2.7 trillion in a vast expansion of the U.S. military-industrial apparatus. U.S. war and occupation only benefit Citibank, Chase, Haliburton, ExxonMobil and the other corporate and banking elites.”

To get in touch with regional organizers in your area, contact A.N.S.W.E.R. in San Francisco at 415-821-6545 or email info@internationalanswer.org. A.N.S.W.E.R. also has speakers available to speak at events, if anyone is interested in spreading the word at school, work, community groups and building a movement to stop war. For further info: www.InternationalANSWER.org



About five years ago, at a press conference in Dubai, I asked Ed Fuller, presently President and Managing Director, Marriott Lodging International, how American companies, while enjoying good earnings in the Middle East, could also contribute to a fair and just settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli problem by using their formidable lobbying clout in Washington to help gain justice for the Palestinians.

Drawing upon his formidable military and media training, Mr Fuller did what he usually does when tackling a controversial question: He dodged it. The basic premise of his reply, in as many words, was that business and politics are separate, and that Marriott would rather remain focussed on its primary responsibility, viz., contributing to the development of travel and hospitality in the Middle East while leaving politics to the politicians.

I never forgot that reply. When I heard of the recent tragic attacks in Jakarta, I couldn’t help wondering if Mr Fuller still holds to that view.

(The rest of my analytical report on the future of terrorism and tourism will be ready for distribution next week to strategic planners and chief executives. The report contends that the financial, cultural and social costs of simply “cracking down” on terrorism are unsustainable and may cripple travel & tourism before terrorism does. Having covered both the Middle East and Southeast Asia in the last 30 years, I argue that terrorism has to be addressed in the same way as SARS — tackling both the medical symptoms and its root causes. Travel & tourism may be resilient but terrorism is proving to be even more so. This report will not be run as a Travel Impact Newswire dispatch but distributed only upon request. I retain the right to decide whom to send it to.)



By Feizal Samath, Inter-Press Service

COLOMBO – Relaxed entry rules into Sri Lanka for Indians and Pakistanis aimed at boosting tourism and trade has also led to the increasing use of the island nation as a conduit for human smuggling to the west, mainly Italy, officials here say.

Intense patrolling by U.S. warships on sea routes to Italy has also been forcing people from South Asia, for instance Pakistan, to look for other routes and use places like Colombo to reach their western destinations.

On Jul. 1, Sri Lankan authorities detained 260 Pakistanis as they attempted to board a ship named ‘Invincible’ lying off the southern coast bound for Italy. That marked the first time foreigners were discovered illegally leaving Sri Lankan shores on a foreign ship.

‘‘This is a disturbing trend and we are on the track of the kingpins here and in Pakistan who are responsible,’’ said Senior Police Superintendent D S Y Samaratunga.

Authorities here are perturbed at the turn of events, particularly since Pakistanis have been using visa-on-arrival access to Sri Lanka for more than 10 years. Indians were offered this facility only since last year. Hundreds of Indians and other South Asians have been visiting Sri Lanka in the past 18 months, making use of cheaper travel packages and a peaceful environment made possible during the ceasefire that began in December 2001 between the government and Tamil rebels.

Clearly, easier access has brought economic benefits to this South Asian island nation. Indians last year accounted for the largest number of visitors to Sri Lanka, eclipsing traditional tourism-generating markets like Germany and Britain. But the free and unrestricted flow of South Asians to Sri Lanka also means it is likely that Pakistanis, like those caught in July, may also be using this route for other means.

Intelligence officers from the Navy, who declined to be named, say that the heavy patrolling of the West Indian Ocean entrance into the Red Sea by U.S. warships — since the Sep. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington — may be forcing people to use other channels to enter the west illegally.

Since Sep. 11, U.S. authorities have also placed restrictions on seafarers of many countries, including Pakistan, when entering U.S. ports. Thus, ‘‘Pakistanis on board non-Pakistani ships are unlikely to arouse suspicion particularly when accompanied by Sri Lankans as they pass U.S. warships in open sea,’’ said a senior commander from the Sri Lankan navy.

The recent success of Sri Lankans going to Italy illegally by boat may also have prompted other nationals to travel through Colombo. Dozens of Sri Lankans have traveled on un-seaworthy boats under difficult conditions to Italy. Many have succeeded, while the authorities were able to seize only a few boats and their human cargo before they left Sri Lanka.

Police Superintendent Samaratunga said that last year, 808 Sri Lankans and 70 foreigners were arrested while trying to go to Italy on illegal boats. This year, police arrested 70 Sri Lankans and about 300 foreigners, including the latest group of Pakistanis.

Most Sri Lankans seek greener pastures abroad for economic reasons and Italy seems to be the most preferred country now because of easier access than other countries. David Soysa, director at the Migrant Workers Centre in Colombo, said that Sri Lankans prefer to migrate to Italy for many reasons and economic impetus drives the push for migration to the west.

“There is a labour shortage and the population is ageing. There are also many Sri Lankan networks that help others to hide on arrival,” he said in an interview. He estimates that there are now 50,000 to 100,000 Sri Lankans in Italy. Sri Lankans have found many ways of hiding there and often after three years are able to get citizenship rights after working in hotels, restaurants and shops, Soysa said.

Soysa, who has worked on migration issues for many years, said that the fact that Italy often provides amnesties to illegal immigrants is an additional attraction for Sri Lankans. The migration into Italy prompted the Sri Lankan government to bring in tighter surveillance of the seas and stricter penalties. Italy, happy with Sri Lankan efforts to deter human smuggling, has also offered 1,000 legitimate job opportunities late last year to Sri Lankans.

In the past few months, police have also detained some Indians and Bangladeshis with forged passports and other documents which they say may be connected to the similar human smuggling operation using the sea route.

It was on a tip-off that a ship that had docked into Colombo port may be involved in human smuggling that Sisira Mendis, director of the Police Criminal Investigation Department, ordered his team into action last month. The ship had loaded an unusually large quantity of food, such as huge stocks of rice, wheat flour, sugar, and potatoes for its seven-member crew, most of whom were Russian and Ukrainian.

It moved out of Colombo on Jun. 20, then anchored offshore of the southern town of Tangalle. Close to midnight on Jul. 1, busloads of Pakistanis who arrived in vans and three-wheel taxis got off the small fishing village of Kudawella in the Tangalle district and made their way quietly to fishing trawlers. These vessels were to take them to the Russian-crewed ship.

Six Sri Lankans were also joining them in the journey to Italy. Pakistani nationals were said to have paid up to 500,000 rupees (about 5,000 dollars) whereas Sri Lankan pay more than half that amount. But because of choppy seas, the shore was deserted and there were no other fishing boats. As the would-be immigrants began boarding the trawlers, police teams came in and navy boats surrounded the ‘Invincible’. All were detained, including the crew.


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