Picture of devastation greets MPs

Picture of devastation greets MPs

Resettlement of war refugees in Sri Lanka remains far more complex

The complex strands of the rehabilitation of the Tamil refugees since the defeat of the LTTE last May, amid the Western powers’ support to Colombo dwindling now citing “human rights violations”, have partly forced the Rajapakse regime to look more towards India.

Dr E M Sudarsana Natchiappan, senior Congress MP and a member of the team that visited the camps where the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) have been kept, told Deccan Herald here on Friday that for the first time parliamentarians from another country could get to know the Tamils’ crisis in its multiple dimensions.

“Our visit was historic as even the local MPs were not allowed to visit the camps so far; and more so as it came out as a solid India-Sri Lanka confidence building measure,” Natchiappan said. He added that the delegation gleaned from its interactions with the Tamils there that the IDPs came broadly under three categories.
Under the first category are persons who own property, agricultural lands or were running businesses when they fled their respective places in the Island’s northwest and northeast areas. The list of such persons was then checked by the local government agents in Jaffna and Vavuniya to verify their antecedents before the IDPs list was cleared.

Natchiappan said the first batch of 58,000 Tamils, now being released from camps for resettlement in their original places in the next fortnight as assured by President Mahinda Rajapakse to the team, belonged to the first category of IDPs, out of a total 2.53 lakh war refugees in various camps.

Under the second category are the IDPs who own no property but had mainly been daily-wage earners prior to the escalation of the war, have been pigeonholed as ‘hosts-dependent’, he said. They were allowed to go back to live with their hosts, but it did not work as the hosts took huge sums for accepting the guests and later “abandoned” them.

Such people were forced to return to the government camps in the Northern Province, Natchiappan pointed out.

The third IDP category comprised orphans, sick people, partially disabled and the old who have none to take care of them, he added.