Resettlement plans for Madhu refugees
[TamilNet, Saturday, 15 May 1999, 10:21 GMT]
The Army Chief of Staff and the Commander for the Vanni region, Major GeneralLionel Balagalle, told local reporters yesterday that the army is making arrangements to establish civil administration in areas of the Vanni recently captured by the SLA. He said several military officials have been appointed for the purpose.
Sri Lankan Army troops have fortified their positions in areas brought under their control during Jayasikurui I, Jayasikurui II, Rivibala, Ranagossa I and Ranagossa II, he said.
Those who have been displaced will be resettled in these areas the Major General added.
During the Jayasikurui Operations the SLA took control of more than a quarter of the land in the Vavuniya district and a large expanse of land in the Mullaithivu district, he said.
Another portion of land in the Mannar district was captured by the SLA in operations Ranagossa I and II recently, he added.
Thousands of families have been displaced due to these operations and have sought refuge in the LTTE held areas and in the Madhu, Paalampiddy, Mannar and Vavuniya areas.
Meanwhile the Government Agent of Mannar, Mr.S.M.Croos, said that displaced families, currently living in the Madhu refugee camp would not be forcibly re-settled in their villages.
He said arrangements have been made to register the names of people who wanted to go to Jaffna for resettlement, while details of persons who wanted to live with friends and relations in the area are also being collected.
According to government statistics there are over 3000 persons from the Jaffna district who have sought refuge in the Madhu Open Relief Centre (ORC).
Last month the Deputy Minister of Defence, General Anurudha Ratwatte, told government officials in Mannar and Vavuniya to clear the refugees from the Madhu
Church area in time for the Madhu Feast that falls on July 2 and August 15.
Civil and Army officials had jointly made arrangements to send the displaced people from Jaffna for resettlement in their own homes through Trincomalee.
Army officials had agreed to complete the security screening of people who are to be transported to Jaffna, Vavuniya and Mannar.
Meanwhile government officials had made arrangements to provide the necessary transport facilities to move the displaced people who are unable to go back to their own homes to Paalampiddy Open Relief Centre.
However the displaced people refused to leave the Madhu area as many of their children are due to sit examinations in August this year.
They refugees also said that they are unable to go to Jaffna because fishing is still banned there and they will not be able to find employment.
The officials in Madhu said the displaced had determined to stay in there until such time as they could go back to their native places and lead a normal life.
A memorandum to this effect signed by thousands of displaced people was handed over to the UNHCR and the Assistant Government Agent in Mannar. The memorandum was handed over after a procession to the UNHCR office in Madhu two days ago.
However, the Government Agent of Mannar said that following discussions with the displaced people and officials he had made arrangements to send the displaced to Jaffna, Vavuniya and Mannar to stay with friends and relatives in accordance with their wishes.
Meanwhile, government officials in Vavuniya said that 62 displaced people from Madhu have been sent to Chekkadipilavu and Naagar Iluppaikulam in the Poovarsankulam area yesterday evening for resettlement.
The Assistant Divisional Secretary of Vavuniya, S.Sathiyaseelan, said that the displaced people were transported in a bus and 3 lorries and left with friends and relations in their villages.
He said that all necessary assistance to resettle the families in their lands will be provided from Monday.
Officials said that 20 families will be brought from Madhu to Vavuniya for resettlement to day.