The Government is planning to close down all 31 camps of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Jaffna district and complete resettlement of 971 families by August 15, The Hindu newspaper reported.
An official document, a copy of which is available with The Hindu , refers to the Government’s plan. Sources reveal that 204 houses are being built in Palaly and Kankesanthurai with the help of the Sri Lanka Army. D.M. Swaminathan, Resettlement Minister, asserts that there is no time frame to close down the camps, but “we are doing all what we can”.
The Government move follows a direction given by President Maithripala Sirisena while chairing a high-level meeting last month on the resettlement of IDPs. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake were among those who attended the meeting. In December last, when the President visited an IDP camp in Konapulam, he assured people that he would address their problems in six months.
On Wednesday, the Cabinet sanctioned Rs. 971 million (Sri Lankan) to build houses at a unit cost of Rs. 1 million. While the 204 houses are expected to be ready in a few months, sources say the identification of land is under way to take care of the requirements of the remaining 767 families.
Arunachalam Kunabalasingham, president of the Vali North Rehabilitation and Resettlement Committee, a body representing IDPs, however is critical of the government’s approach towards the displaced. A large number of the IDPs are from places such as Myladdy and there is a 12-km-long coastline still under the control of the security forces, he says. “Without returning the Myladdy fishing harbour and providing free access to the coastline, the government will not be able to achieve much.” (Colombo Gazette)