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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 78

Sri Lanka: unemployed youth speak to WSWS

[b]Sri Lanka: unemployed youth speak to WSWS[/b]

[b]By Priya Darshana Meddawatta – World Socialist Web Site[/b]

In the course of the Sri Lankan presidential election, Mahinda Rajapakse, the victorious candidate of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), promised to create 2.4 million jobs over the next six years. His rival, Ranil Wickremesinghe of the United National Party (UNP), matched him with a pledge of “millions” of jobs. Interviews with working class youth—the social layer bearing the brunt of Sri Lanka’s endemic unemployment—reveal there is widespread scepticism and distrust toward these promises.

The interviews below were made with a section of unemployed or underemployed youth living in the district of Grandpass, in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo. Colombo graphically demonstrates the social polarization that exists across the country. Luxury homes, five star hotels and modern supermarkets are located a short distance from overcrowded slums, where unemployment is acute and social problems rampant.

Grandpass is one of the poorest areas of the city. The average size of the houses that line its streets is less than 100 square feet. It is not uncommon to find two families sharing one of these homes. There are some small two-story houses that have been built by the few able to find a job in the Middle East and save some money. On vacant blocks, however, the poorest people live in rough shacks made from planks and tin sheets. There is no drainage or access to essential services. During heavy rain, the narrow laneways in the district fill with water and the houses are regularly flooded.

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