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Sunday, 2 August 2009

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IDP rehab process in place

After the successful annihilation of the LTTE in Sri Lankan shores, the Mahinda Rajapaksa Government has now fully committed to rehabilitating the former LTTE cadres and resettling thousands of displaced civilians.

As a first step towards national reconciliation and integration, the Government has implemented a massive resettlement and rehabilitation plan to bring the lives of thousands of Northern civilians back to normal.

Despite criticism about the situation in the camps, the Government is trying its best to take care of over 300,000 lives until they are resettled in their own environments.

The local and international pundits, who tried to block the military offensives in LTTE controlled areas a few months ago, are coming with various theoretical concepts on how to treat IDPs and ex-LTTE cadres.

They have completely forgotten the fact that this is the same government that successfully handled thousands of IDPs in the Eastern humanitarian operation in 2007. The resettlement program which progressed following accepted international standards, was appreciated by many leading countries.

Within a few days of liberating civilians, who were used as a human shield by LTTE terrorists, the Government had provided them facilities while taking steps to provide temporary shelter for them.

Looking after an unexpected number of civilians plus the ex-cadres is a gigantic task and as a responsible government it took all measures to make these terror stricken lives more comfortable.

Civilians, who were once exposed to terror day and night, started sleeping peacefully for the first time in their lives for the last thirty years in the last two months.

Those who attempted to tarnish the good work of the Government, have now started to find fault with the system in the IDP camps, now bustling with services - education, banking, communication, counselling and health facilities. Day-to-day life has in fact begun there.

Who can think about an environment without barbed wires and full security around in these IDP camps? Though the military had reduced the LTTE to zero, the risk of disrupting the normalacy in these camps exists.

The allegation of barbed wires, high walls around the camps and full security can be thrown into the waste bin as all these measures have been taken by the Government not to suppress the rights of these IDPs, but to protect them from any harm.

Some may have an urgency to see that the Northern IDPs are resettled. But the Government has to carry out the process carefully minimizing the risks and also corruption. These people, who were battered under the heels of terrorists, cannot be left to be victimised again. They need full security and support to live. They need to rise from the ashes.

Here the soldiers play a vital role to prevent the LTTE from emerging again.

While providing maximum security, the military is shouldering the responsibility of creating a conducive environment for resettling people in the North. The military, commencing their mission to assist the Government to accelerate its mission to resettle the IDPs in their original habitats, has begun by clearing the once war torn areas in the North explosive, ammunition and weapon dumps.

While clearing the deadly mines, the soldiers are now fully engaged in constructing new roads and bridges in the North. They are also engaged in various development activities in the North to set the ground to resettle IDPs.

The Government, which spends a colossal amount of money to look after these IDPs will certainly not confine them to camps for years. Most of the IDPs have lost their houses. They cannot go back to them they are destroyed or mined.

Though the critics sling mud at the Government saying that there is no proper plan or a time frame to resettle these IDPs, the Government goes ahead with a targeted plan to conclude the process within 180 days.

According to military sources, the weapons, ammunition and explosives hidden by the LTTE in their former controlled areas are much more than what they have recovered.

This poses a danger and needs to be fully cleared before resettling the IDPs. To make the rehabilitation and resettlement a meaningful process and to leave no errors, the Government has appointed a new Commissioner General of Rehabilitation to expedite the process.

The new Commissioner Maj. Gen. Daya Ratnayake directly functions under President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and his task is to resettle the IDPs in welfare centres in Vavuniya.

He will also be saddled with the task of rehabilitating over 10,000 ex-LTTE cadres and thousands of families which had direct contacts with the LTTE.

This indicates the need for implementing a well planned system to rehabilitate them educationally, economically and socially.

Meanwhile, according to information, the Government has focused its attention to reduce the LTTE’s remaining strength internationally with the emergence of K.P. The LTTE, which was reduced to zero locally, desperately tries to rise abroad, but according to analysts, the attempts are not fruitful as the majority of Tamils have no faith in the LTTE now.

The new Army Commander Lt. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya visited Jaffna last Friday and commended the contribution made by soldiers in Jaffna to end the Wanni battle successfully. Lt. Gen. Jayasuriya, who wants to lead the Sri Lanka Army to a new era with professionalism and discipline, emphasized the need of maintaining discipline among the soldiers and asked the soldiers not to tarnish the image of the Army.

Three General Officers Commanding - Brig. Prasanna Silva, Brig. Chagi Gallage and Brig. Shavendra Silva whose contribution in the Wanni operation helped put an end to LTTE terrorism, have been promoted to the rank of Major General by the President Rajapaksa, early last week.

Forty six Colonels have also been promoted to the rank of Brigadier considering their seniority and the contribution to the Wanni battle. Colonels C.V. Ravipriya Nishantha Wanniaarachchi, Mahinda Weerasoriya, Ralph Nugera, Athula Koddippili, Sudath Perera, Shantha Dias, Suraj Bansajaya and Laksiri Waduge, who were directly involved in the Wanni Operation, are among those promoted to the rank of Brigadier.

With the promotions, several changes were brought about last Friday. The former GOC of the 55 Division Maj. Gen. Prasanna Silva has been appointed as the GOC of the 22 Division, and the Deputy GOC 53 Division Brig. Sudath Perera has been appointed as the GOC 55 Division. Brigadier Athula Koddippili, the former Commander Special Forces (SF), has been appointed as the deputy GOC 53 Division. Colonel Harindra Ranasinghe took over duties as the Commander SF. The former Commander Commando Brigade Brigadier Ralph Nugera has been appointed as the GOC 23 Division, Lt. Colonel Lalantha Gamage as Commander Commando Brigade.

Maj. Gen. Laksiri Ameratunge, Maj. Gen. Mahesh Senanayake, Maj. Gen. Janaka Walgama Brigadier Sumith Padumadasa and Brigadier Dampath Fernando have been posted to the Chief of Defence Staff. The new Director General Intelligence is Maj. Gen. Janaka Walgama and Brig. Amal Karunasekara, at present the Director Military Intelligence, is also the Director Infantry. The former Deputy GOC of the 55 Division Brig. C.D. Gunawardena has been appointed as the Brigade Commander 571.

Meanwhile the Sri Lanka Navy too changed its officers last week. Rear Admiral Somatilake Dissanayake is the new Chief of Staff while Rear Admiral Susith Weerasekara is the Deputy Chief of Staff.

He is also the Eastern Naval Commander.Rear Admiral Jayanath Colambage has been appointed the Northern Naval Commander and Rear Admiral Jayantha Perera the new Director Operations of the Sri Lanka Navy; Commodore Ravi Wijegunaratne the Western Naval Commander; Commodore Shirantha Udawatta head of the Naval Unit of the Chief of Defence Staff; Commodores Rohan Amerasinghe, Rohana Perera and Neil Rozairo as the Director General Training, Southern Naval Commander and Director, Operations respectively.

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