Colombo's aid program for refugees “flawed”: The Times

[TamilNet, Monday, 07 December 2009, 01:54 GMT]
Sri Lankan government bodies are incapable of administrating aid programs required to assist the thousands of refugees temporarily released from military camps, further compounding their suffering by refusing regional access to aid groups and organisations “far better skilled at delivering resettlement aid than local authorities” The Times has reported. Many refugees, including children and the disabled, who are without homes and entirely dependent upon aid programs after months of imprisonment have not been able to obtain basic essential items days after the Government claimed to have released thousands of civilians in custody.

Citing a resettlement package that includes a World Food Program ration card, a small monetary sum and essential goods, the article said that many people interviewed had not received parts of the handout, due to “administrative errors by local authorities”.

Rajneedevi Visavalingam, a mother of 3 whom along with her blind husband had been detained in a Zone 4 camp told the journalist that “the Government has washed its hands of us.”

“I took a letter to the UNHCR [United Nations Commissioner for Refugees] here, saying I have three small children, a blinded husband, no home of our own and no money. They sent me to the IOM [International organisation for Migration], who sent me back to the local divisional secretary, who sent me away with nothing”.

Anger over aid mismanagement was expressed by Father V. Yogeswaran, director of the Centre for Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in Trincomalee who described the situation as "crazy" and slammed the lack of "clear procedure for the rehabilitation or resettlement programme. We don’t know it. The returnees don’t know it".

The Red Cross has also vented its frustration, publicly disputing claims by Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama on British television last week that the areas were "totally open" by confirming they are still being refused entry to the area.

 

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