Sri Lanka army permits hinder Kalmadu resettlement
[TamilNet, Thursday, 09 December 2004, 15:41 GMT]
Refugee families that resettled in Kalmadu, 15 kilometres northwest of Vavuniya, said Thursday that rebuilding their lives is difficult because they have to obtain special permits from the Sri Lanka army for access to their fields. The village was destroyed in a Sri Lanka army operation in 1999. The villagers of Kalmadu lost all their belongings when they fled the war. They returned in late 2002, many months after Colombo signed a cease fire agreement (CFA) with the Liberation Tigers.
“We are unable to cultivate our lands freely even in these times of peace. Our future is uncertain despite the assistance we get from some NGOs. There is no guarantee whatsoever that our livelihoods would be permanent”, said a farmer in Kalmadu.
“We have to surrender our pass to the Sri Lankan army when we go to our fields. And take it back from the local checkpoint when we return home from work”, Mr. Kanakasabhai Sivendirarajah, a Kalmadu farmer, told TamilNet.
Only two NGOs, Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation and a Danish group for refugees, have provided some assistance for re-settlement in Kalmadu so far, villagers said.
Sri Lankan armed forces had 21 types of permits for both permanent residents and visitors to Vavuniya in Vavuniya during the war. Ciivlians had to wait in long queues at 23 ‘pass centres’ in Vavuniya town, facing interrogations and red tape to obtain the permits.
The ‘pass system’ was cancelled after the signing of the CFA in February 2002.
Roads and lanes in Kalmadu remain dilapidated. Monsoon rains have ruined them further. Children who have to walk a long way to schools suffer negotiating their path around the potholes and large rain puddles.
The Government Tamil Mixed School (GTMS) of the village was all but destroyed in the SLA operations in 1999. The school functions now in a couple of temporary shelters. There are 450 students are studying here.
Mr. Kanapathipillai Selvathevan, principal of the Kalmadu GTMS the children are eager to learn despite the dire difficulties he faces in running the school day to day with limited resources and little hope of any aid from the Sri Lankan government.
Kalmadu GTMS did notably well in GCE (O.L) exams among the schools in Vavuniya north last year