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Donor help to upgrade living standards of resettled - Minister

The Ministry of Resettlement seeks help of the local and international donors, Tamil diaspora and business community to upgrade living conditions of nearly 200,000 northern war displaced people who are resettled now in their own villages.

The total number of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) remaining in welfare camps in Vavuniya has come down to less than 70,000. The government commenced the resettlement process in August last year, where over 270,000 civilians sought refuge in state sponsored welfare camps soon after the military defeated the LTTE in May, 2009.

The Minister of Resettlement Milroy Fernando told the ‘Sunday Observer’ that he is confident that the entire IDP population could be resettled within the next six months as the government has given the top priority to send them home. He said that de-mining which is the main hindrance in expediting the resettlement process has also been speeded up to meet the deadline.

“I have found that there are lots of houses with strong foundations, which could easily be used by the owners.

But they are living in adjoining huts as these houses don’t have a roof. The LTTE when they were escaping had ordered the civilians to remove the roof and take them with them”, Minister Fernando who had a fact-finding tour to Mannar, Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu said.

He said the housing problem among resettled people could be solved if they were given financial assistance or donations of roofing sheets.

According to Minister Fernando, each family will be given Rs. 25,000 as a shelter grant but the allocation is not enough to complete the roofing.

“Most of these houses don’t have doors and windows.

They need extra financial assistance to complete these houses. The Army has helped some of the owners to put new roofs”, he said.

The new Minister of Resettlement is also planning to find donors to help the resettled families to boost their economic standards by providing fishing gear and agricultural equipment to start their livelihood.

“I have already discussed these aspects with a Japanese INGO, whom I met on Friday. They expressed their willingness to help the resettled people to provide facilities and upgrade their financial situation”, he said.

The Minister also stressed the need of getting assistance for roofing for some of the schools in the North. He said that those local and international NGOs and well-wishers could contact his Ministry for further details and they also could sponsor repair to individual houses or schools.

According to the UNHCR, over 207,000 IDPs have left the welfare camps in the North and East since August last year and they have either returned to their homes under the resettlement process or are living with their friends and relatives.

Minister Fernando said that the resettlement process had been speeded up after a short pause due to the Parliamentary polls and over 7,000 IDPs had returned to Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu after the elections.

Meanwhile, India is paying its concerns to expediting and resettling the remaining 70,000 IDPs in welfare camps, Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishan has discussed the issue with Sri Lanka’s External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris at the SAARC summit.

 

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