Batticaloa GA visits Vaharai
[TamilNet, Friday, 02 February 2007, 00:44 GMT]
"Vaharai residents displaced due to the offensive of Sri Lanka army (SLA) will be resettled very soon, and displaced residents of Trincomalee district will follow soon after," said Sundaram Arumainayagam, the Government agent (GA) of Batticaloa district speaking to the press Thursday.
The GA and a team of administrators including K.Mahesan, the additional GA, R. Neduncheliyan, District Planning Director, and S. Kiritharan, the Divisional Secretary for Vaharai division, visited Vaharai the first time Thursday after the Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam withdrew from the area. SLA soldiers currently occupy the area.
The team visited the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) staying at refugee camps and assessed the damages caused due to the SLA offensive.
After the visit, speaking to the media the GA said, “Our visit was aimed at finding ways to resettle the IDPs currently staying in refugee camps spread out in the district. We have noticed that Panichchenkerny has sustained severe infrastructure and property damages than other areas.
"SLA is presently engaged in removing the mines and booby traps and after their task is completed, the people would be allowed to return home,” the GA said.
“As a first step, attention would focus on restoring electricity, public transport system, health facilities and education. The governor for Eastern Province, Mohan Wijayasinghe, has appointed separate teams for the different sectors to study issues related to rapidly rebuilding these sectors,” the GA added.
When asked if the government will force the IDPs to return home, the GA said: “No one will be forced. The Government has given clear instructions that only those who are willing to return should be asked to go back.
"We don't have a set time frame for resettlement. We are planning a meeting on this issue soon, and after that only a decision will be taken on the time frame.
The GA added that the Director General of the Ministry of Rehabilitation, Mr. Mohideen, also travelled with them to collect information related to providing job opportunities to the resettled IDPs.
The GA was asked if he is taking any action on alleged abductions of youths from among the IDPs. “I have asked the military hierarchy to inquire the issue and take the necessary steps to control this. And they have promised to take actions,” the GA said.