Where We Work
Sri Lanka is currently ranked 29 on the Global Terrorism Index of 2023. Eleven extremist groups, including ISIL and al-Qaeda were banned in April 2021 under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, for their radical activities in Sri Lanka.
In 2022, multiple factors including the impact of the worldwide COVID pandemic; severe shortages of food, medicine, and fuel; and power outages have generated protests in Columbo. A new Government has assumed office in May 2022. In response to the situation, the National Government was negotiating a loan of USD 2.9 billion with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
I studied with limited resources and a lack of interactions with other ethnic communities. I had many misconceptions about them. I had aggressive thoughts and frustration because my family has been displaced many times due to ethnic conflict.
However, after participating in a PVE project I was very inspired to understand more about nonviolent communication and peacebuilding. As a result, my previous thoughts were dismissed totally and I have made Sinhala friends. I have more curiosity to interact with Sinhala and Muslim people now.
– A participant of workshop on nonviolent communication and peacebuilding.
Pathways to Change
GCERF aims to address the drivers of violent extremism in six districts in Sri Lanka through leveraging activities that strengthen youth resilience against violent extremism.
The programme targets youth (15-29 years), through activities of youth dialogue meetings, youth PVE orientation, youth-local government dialogue meetings, interfaith camp meetings, improvement of livelihood skills and community PVE sensitisation.
Given the challenging situation in the country throughout 2022, GCERF and Helvetas have worked to adjust programming to respond to this. The programme team identified the lack of economic opportunities for youth potentially as a source of frustration, increasing the risk of radicalization, with unemployed youth more vulnerable to recruitment. As part of the programme extension, they were able to develop a youth-focused livelihoods component providing market-related skills training.
- Engaging religious leaders, influencers and role models to enhance social cohesion.
- Engaging inter-ethnic and inter-religious youth in social activities.
- Conducting digital literacy workshops to increase awareness about online hate speech and radicalisation.
- Training workshops on conflict management and PVE.