Senior Program Development Advisor

February- May 2005

Cambridge University, Centre of International Studies, U.K.

Cambridge Carnegie Project on Resolving Self Determination Disputes through Complex Power Sharing, Based in Colombo

What ?


Where ?

When ?

With whom ?

Support for the Sri Lanka Peace Process+
Support for the Sri Lanka Peace Process


Minority issues; Peace building; Inter-ethnic issues


Dialogue management; Assessment & Evaluation


Sri Lanka


The Muslims in Sri Lanka are a minority spread out across the island state. They tended to be the balance of power in parliamentary equations. However the peace process in Sri Lanka did not include them as a party in negotiations. The inner divisions within the Muslim community further diminished the chances of their participation. It was felt that for the eventual peace agreement to be implemented the participation of a Muslim representation is a must.



What exactly?

Sunoor Verma was retained to conduct Needs assessment; Stakeholder Consultations; Situation analysis and Institutional capacity assessment of the divided Muslim communities in Sri Lanka in relation to the peace process in that country. This involved, consulting with political, religious, community leaders and other members of the Muslim communities, the government, international missions and further relevant actors in Sri Lanka. The project was carried out in a climate of growing security concerns and travel restrictions.

With- whom?

Cambridge University, Centre of International Studies

Carnegie Foundation, New York

What happened?

Visible and invisible opinion makers were consulted thus ensuring a report, which is highly reliable. This substantive report detailed the identity, interests and positions of Muslim political actors in Sri Lanka in relation to the peace process. This report was presented to the peace process facilitators.

“ While many give lip service to the importance of a participatory approach that involves the community in the design of projects, Sunoor puts this theory into practice through his natural curiosity and his interest in working with people. This enhances the sustainability of interventions. ”

Michael Szporluk
Expert, Civil Society Development
Mercy Corps


Refugees; Humanitarian Relief;

Dialogue Management; Needs Assessment; Stakeholder Consultations; Project

development; Negotiations.




In 1999 during the Kosovo refugee crisis, following concerns of inter-ethnic instability, the Republic of Macedonia imposed a condition on the international community for admitting refugees from neighboring Kosovo. The number of refugees that are evacuated from Macedonia to NATO countries would be the number of newly admitted refugees into the country. In the race against time, while it was vital to evacuate as many refugees as possible, it was important to give priority to vulnerable cases. Prioritizing medical cases among an exhausted from difficult travels and traumatized population was one aspect of the challenge. The other- convincing reluctant host governments accept medical cases for evacuation and the associated costs to their health systems.



What exactly?

Sunoor Verma’s services were retained by the UNHCR to formulate priority criteria for the evacuation of refugee patients to NATO countries. Sunoor prioritized the cases from 7 geographically dispersed refugee camps, and negotiated with NATO country delegations transfer and treatment of emergency medical cases from among the refugees. He coordinated and monitored the facilities for evacuation of severely ill refugees. He played a key role in the initiation, planning and implementation of extending the medical evacuation program to approximately 200,000+ host family refugee cases. Sunoor monitored the standard of medical escorts during evacuation. He worked in partnership with local medical authorities, government authorities, donor community and NGOs to facilitate the patient evacuation process.

With- whom?



What happened?

  1. Medical evacuation program extended to approximately 200,000+ refugees residing with host families.
  2. Significant increase in evacuation of patient to NATO countries for treatment.

( on the value that Sunoor Verma brings to project design/ innovation..) Good sense of “common sense”, no fear of criticism and trying to look into issues from all kinds of angles: in short the ability to make the project as likely to succeed as possible.

Annika Palo
Adviser, Department for Europe
Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency