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War-affected, poverty-stricken Tamil villagers complain of neglect in housing assistance

[TamilNet, Monday, 09 May 2016, 23:35 GMT]
104 Eezham Tamil families, who have resettled in Isaimalaith-thaazhvu village, which is located 3 km southeast of Murungkan town along Mannaar - Mathavaachchi Road in Naanaaddaan division, complain that they are being systematically neglected in all the housing schemes reaching Mannaar district. The families, mostly dependent on animal farming or agriculture close to their temporary huts, live below the poverty line, and are among the poorest in Mannaar district. Their houses were either demolished or taken over by the occupying SL military and the notorious Special Task Force (STF) in February 1997 during the brutal military operation code named ‘Edibala’.

The SL Army and STF are still occupying both the sides of the road.

The families also complain that plans are afoot to settle Sinhalese in the public lands in the interior village.

All of the families were uprooted from their houses that were earlier situated along both sides of the main road in February 1997 when the occupying Colombo under Chandrika Bandranaike Kumaratunga's regime launched Operation Edibala to seize the road from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The Tamil families were subjected to hate violence by the genocidal military following the military operation. As Tamil youth were subjected to abductions and arrests, many families chose to seek refuge at Madu Church and later fled into LTTE administered Vanni.

The families were able to come back and settle in their lands in 2005. However, when the genocidal onslaught on Vanni was resumed in 2008, many of them again chose to move into LTTE controlled territory and they were uprooted several times till they reached Mu'l'livaaykkaal.

The families suffered at the hands of SL military after they were enslaved into barbed-wire internment camps operated by the SL military at Manik Farm in Vavuniyaa after April/May 2009.

The families are now resettled in the interior parts of their village mostly on their own efforts with a few sheets and bricks provided to them. Their huts have no sanitation facility, complains Ms Vasanthakumary, a mother of two. The SL military had completely wiped our her house and she is living in a small hut away from her house.

Apart from the war, we were also affected by large-scale floods twice, says 58-year-old Seemanpillai Santhanapillai.

Gunasekamaram Sureshkumar, a father of three says his family was promised assistance by every GS officer who came to power after their resettlement. There have been so far 4 different GS officers and each of them went without being able to accomplish their promises, he says.

Nixon Navarooban, a father of two, says the families have lost hope of any housing assistance reaching them in the near future.

The families say they were fully neglected in the Indian Housing Scheme. None of them were allocated houses in the much-publicised controversial 65,000-housing scheme under the current regime in Colombo.

The Asian Development Bank funded North East Community Restoration and Development (NECORD) also ignored them.

Another housing scheme under the current regime's ‘National Housing Development Authority’ (NHDA) has allocated 1,000 houses in Mannaar district. None among the war-affected and poverty-stricken families from Isai-maalaith-thaazhvu have been sidelined also in that scheme, they say.

In the meantime, Sinhala settlers have started to seize the public lands in the interior village with the backing of the SL military, a civil official in Murungkan told TamilNet.

Isaimaalaith-thaazhvu villagers were being targeted since 04 December 1984, when a Sri Lanka Army truck, which was on its way to Tha'l'laadi camp, was targeted by a landmine. The vehicle narrowly escaped from the attack and the SLA from Tha'l'laadi camp opened fire on the civilian settlements. The SLA soldiers went on a rampage at several locations from Mannaar to Isaimaalaith-thaazhvu, massacring more than 200 Tamil civilians. The SLA troopers stopped a bus from Vavuniyaa between Madu Road Junction and Isaimaalaith-thaazhvu, ordered the passengers to get off the bus, and opened fire on them.

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