No compensation in sight for Vaakarai, Champoor victims
[TamilNet, Thursday, 13 March 2008, 11:14 GMT]
Even after a lapse of one-and-a-half-year, the families of at least 100 civilians killed and 84 wounded in Vaakarai region of Batticaloa district during Sri Lanka Army (SLA) offensive, are still waiting for their compensations from the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL). In the meantime, the families of the victims of previous SLA offensives before the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA), who were assured of their sanctioned compensations, complained that the authorities were still delaying their payments. Before the local elections in Batticaloa in March 2008, the GoSL offered some fishing nets to fishermen societies and gifted 25,000 rupees per temple in Vaakarai.
Admitting that the GoSL did not allocate required funds to the reconstruction of the livelihood of the civilians, officials in Vaakarai division said that even the hospital there was reconstructed by Medical Emergency Relief International (Merlin), an international Health NGO.
The officials had registered details of 48 civilians killed in Vaakarai and 28 injured after the resettlement of civilians in Vaaharai in October 2007. The details were forwarded to the District Secretariat for apportioning of the allocated funds.
Meanwhile, according to information compiled by Vaakarai divisional secretariat, another 52 civilians killed and 56 wounded in Vaakarai region were Internally Displaced Persons from Trincomalee district. The relevant details of the victims have been already forwarded to the divisional offices in Eechchantheevu and Champoor but no compensation has been paid to the relatives of affected people as well to the injured.
The registration of victims in Vaakarai were completed in haste. Due to bureaucratic delays in obtaining death certificates, not all families managed to complete the registration process.
The procedure for acquiring a death certificate involved obtaining a medical certificate from a doctor, getting it certified by a Village Officer (Grama Sevaka - GS) and finally securing a police certificate.
Officials further said that they also faced obstacles in obtaining information regarding the victims since many of the Internally Displaced people (IDPs) failed to resettle in Vaaharai.
Based on the available information obtained from the resettled civilians in Vaakarai it has been estimated that a sum of Rs. 2, 100,000 is required to compensate the relatives of the 42 natives of Vaakarai region, registered so far as victims killed in the recent offensive by the SLA. This amount does not include the payments to be made to those who were injured.
According to the government regulation a compensation of Rs, 50,000 is paid if the victim killed was a familied person while if the deceased person was single the family would receive Rs. 25, 000.
The entire population of Vaakarai were forced to flee from the region by December 2006 following SLA initiated offensives in September 2006. Based on the census of the resettled people, it has been revealed that 15,399 civilians of 4,554 families belonging to 12 out of the 16 GS divisions in Koa'ralaippattu North Divisional Secretary’s administrative region were displaced in 2006.
26, 135 civilians belonging to 6,927 families from Trincomalle and Batticaloa district are still living in interim refugee camps for IDPs.