Resettlement authority to remain

The term of office of the Resettlement Authority, the central body to implement resettlement in Sri Lanka, was extended by another three years by the Cabinet last week enabling it to work further on resettlement , the  Sunday Observer reported.

The Secretary to the Resettlement Ministry Janaka Sugathadasa told the Sunday Observer the Resettlement Authority had a fixed term of six years and its term was due to expire on April 10, 2013.

The Secretary said that the decision to extend the term was taken despite the closure of the Menik Farm on completing the resettlement and relocation of people who had been displaced during the humanitarian operation which was completed in May 2009.

“But technically that does not mean that resettlement is over. We have many more things to do as pockets of displaced persons in the country are yet to be resettled”, he said. “We have many more things to do. For example, in the Jaffna district we have 42 welfare centres with 1,336 families – 4,866 people. We have 6,969 families living with friends and relatives who have been displaced due to the High Security Zones which were set up in the early 1990’s”, he said.

“We also have another 68,000 people of Sri Lankan origin living in nearly 140 camps in South India and another 28,000 living with friends and relatives.

“We want to expedite the process of bringing down those Sri Lankans back to the country. Towards that end we are working very closely with the UNHCR, the Ministries of External Affairs and Defence”, he said.