70's budget for 90's detainees

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 25 March 1998, 23:59 GMT]
Tamil people from the Vanni who land at Kurunagar in Jaffna town and areheld at the SLA's CeyNor camp are being forced to live on inadequaterations handed out to them by Department of Social Services, due to anarchaic Sri Lankan Government regulation which states that a refugee hasto subsist on 25 rupees per day, a senior official of the Department ofSocial Services told the TamilNet correspondent today.

The official, who did not wish to be identified, said that the amount was fixed in 1971 according to the cost of living prevailing at that time.

Despite the cost of living have soared from what it was almost 30 years ago, there has been no change in the daily allowance for dry rations to refugees since.

Meanwhile NGOs, which have often stepped in when the Sri Lankan Government has not delivered adequate relief to refugees, cannot intervene in this matter officially because they do not have the permission of the SLA to do so, said S.Paramanathan, Chairman of the Jaffna NGO Consortium.

The only NGO which has permission to work at the CeyNor Camp is the Sri Lanka Red Cross, which provides medical assistance to the sick.

The residents returning to Jaffna via boat from the Vanni come through Kurunagar are subject to some regulations which those arriving by ship - hired by Sri Lanka's Commissioner General of Essential Services at Kankesanthurai (KKS) - do not have face.

People arriving by boat are usually those who have not got security clearance from the SLA before leaving the Vanni, unlike their counterparts who arrive at KKS.

The returnees at KKS are given security clearance before being dispatched officially by the Sri Lankan government to Jaffna. An average of 300 refugees are housed at the CeyNor camp at any time, awaiting clearance said sources.

Security clearance by the SLA includes the identification of the returnees by local government officials in the areas where the returnees had lived prior to being displaced.

The period a returnee stays at CeyNor camp would be at least three days, while the process of registering people takes only a few hours at KKS.

Living for three days, or more, on a diet which cannot cost over 25 rupees is extremely difficult for the camp's residents said the official from the Social Services Department.

 

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