SLA bid to relocate Trinco IDPs opposed

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 06 June 2001, 06:07 GMT]
Sri Lankan security forces told government officials in Trincomalee to transfer over 1500 internally displaced Tamil persons from Alles Garden refugee camp to Kuchchaveli, 38 kilometres north of Trincomalee town. "The security forces in Trincomalee have taken this step to ensure the security of army and navy camps in the area", a government official said.

The decision to relocate the refugees comes in the wake of an accidental explosion of a landmine on Farm Road, Uppuveli on 27 May, according to a senior government official. The army says that two persons, believed to be members of the LTTE, who were laying the mine were killed in the explosion. Refugees protest that they won't leave the Alles Garden refugee camp at any cost as their lives would be in danger if they are resettled in the Kuchchaveli division.

There are five Sri Lanka army and Navy camps and four sentries in the general area of Uppuveli-Thuvarankaadu where the Alles Garden refugee camp is situated.

On representations made by the refugees, Mr. Douglas Devananda, MP, Minister for Development, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation of North and Northeast Tamil Affairs faxed an urgent letter to the Deputy Minister of Defence asking him to instruct the army to abandon the move to transfer the displaced civilians from the Alles Garden refugee camp.

Civil authorities in Trincomalee are not in favour of the army's move. Officials say that internally displaced persons (IDP) cannot be resettled in their villages without their (the IDPs) consent.

Mr. Daniel Schriber, Head of the Sub Delegation of the ICRC in Trincomalee. (Photo: TamilNet)
"We are not in a position to transfer civilian population from an area or displaced persons from welfare centres to ensure better protection to the security personnel manning camps and checkpoints", a senior government official said

The Alles Garden Refugee Camp is in the Trincomalee Town and Gravets Division.

Displaced Tamil persons from about seventeen Tamil villages such as Thambalagamam, Pankulam, Thiriyai, Kuchchaveli, Muttur, in Trincomalee district stay in this refugee camp. These families fled their villages in 1992 due SLA operations.

Some of them left Sri Lanka by boats and sought refugee in Tamilnadu, South India. A few of these returned from Tamil Nadu and are staying in Alles Garden, as they do not want to go to their villages until the war is brought to an end and normalcy returns.

Most of their villages were destroyed in SLA operations in 1986 and 1990-1992.

The SLA does not favour resettlement of civilians in the destroyed Tamil villages north of Trincomalee. The large Tamil villages of Thennamaravaadi and Thiriyai in the northern Trincomalee have remained derelict for more than fourteen years due to SLA opposition to resettlement here.

The SLA has also opposed and discouraged resettlement of Tamils in northern Trincomalee to promote the interests of Sinhala colonists whom it settled here following the systematic destruction of the traditional Tamil villages since 1985.

The International Committee of Red Cross maintains that the present conflict should come to an end for the displaced living in camps and welfare centres in the Trincomalee to return their own villages.

At a press briefing held in the eastern port town on 25 April, Mr. Daniel Schriber, Head of the Sub Delegation of the I.C.R.C in Trincomalee categorically stated that the International Committee of Red Cross cannot ensure security for resettling people in Kuchchaveli, Thiriyai villages in the north of Trincomalee district.

Mr. Schriber said that the Sri Lankan Government security personnel would not prefer resettlement of the displaced in this part of the district at this juncture.

Alles Garden refugee camp (Photo: TamilNet)

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