Madhu refugee clearance underway

[TamilNet, Thursday, 20 May 1999, 10:53 GMT]
Two hundred of the ten thousand displaced persons who had sought refuge at the Madhu Church Open Relief Centre (ORC) have been sent back for resettlement in Jaffna.

They were taken by 3 buses and 2 lorries to Trincomalee yesterday, said Mr. S.M.Cruze, Government Agent for Mannar.

They will be sent to Jaffna by ship on a priority basis.

He further said that 206 families, originally from the Vavuniya district, who had sought refuge at the Madhu church ORC had left for resttlement in their own villages over the past few days.

Mr.Cruze said that arrangements to remove all refugees from Madhu on orders of the government before the end of this month are now fully underway .

The Deputy Defence Minister, General Anurudda Ratwatte, ordered the Government Agents in Mannar and Vavuniya to send back all Jaffna refugees in Madhu before the end of the month.

He said that there should be no refugees in the Madhu church area at the end of the month.

Madhu refugees are sent for resettlement in accordance with their wishes, said officials.

The refugees in the church area recently staged a march to the offices of the UNHCR and handed over a memorandum stating that they wanted to remain in the area until at least August, when their children are set to take the General Certificate of Education ordinary and advanced level examinations.

"We have made arrangements to find accommodation in welfare centres at Pesalai and Katkadanthakulam in the Mannar district for the refugees who are from the LTTE held areas and those unable to go to their own homes as SLA camps and forward defence lines are situated there," Mr.Cruze said.

Meanwhile the Bishop of Mannar, Rt.Rev.Rayappu Joseph, has said that a final decision on whether to conduct the Madhu feast that falls in July and August, will only be taken after meeting the Sri Lankan President, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge, for a discussion.

The Bishop has asked the government to restrict the movement of uniformed and armed Sri Lankan army personnel within the surrounding areas of the church.


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