Northern resettlement to be complete by mid next year

Sampur resettlementResettlement of over 3,000 people displaced in Sri Lanka’s former war zone in the northern Jaffna will be completed by mid next year, an official has said, days after UN chief Ban Ki-Moon called for expediting reconciliation efforts with the minority Tamils.

Jaffna’s security forces commander Mahesh Senanayake said a little over 3,000 people are remaining to be resettled, the Press Trust of India reported.

There are 3,388 people from 971 families living in 71 displaced camps in Jaffna. All of them will be resettled in their places of origin by June next year, he said at a new housing settlement built in Keeramalai in Jaffna.

He said 88 per cent of the heavily booby-trapped lands in Jaffna have been cleared of anti-personnel mines. The de-mining work in the areas will take a lot more time. This is no easy job to clear all areas of mines.

Some 300,000 people were displaced during the last phase of the war with the LTTE in 2009. They were housed in relief camps in the northern town of Vavuniya.

Following a concerted international effort to grant relief to them, the governments resettlement campaign became a success. Officials said the remaining people to be resettled are those who are mostly from areas heavily booby-trapped during the war by both the LTTE and the army.

After the war ended, the Sri Lankan government had come under increasing international pressure to resettle the displaced and release the lands held for military purposes.

There has been phased out release of civilian lands which was stepped up since January last year. UN Secretary General Ban, during his visit to Sri Lanka, highlighted the importance of addressing the question of the war displaced and other outstanding issues in the former battle zones plagued by a separatist war which lasted over three decades. (Colombo Gazette)