Madhu refugee clearance completed

[TamilNet, Friday, 28 May 1999, 19:57 GMT]
The last batch of refugees were removed from Madhu church at about 4.30 p.m. this afternoon, said government officials in Manner. The 300 refugees were taken by buses to welfare centres in Mannar.

Only employees of non governmental organisations (NGO's) remain in the area that functioned as a safe haven for people who had been displaced by the war.

Church officials have said that until the recent government operations the Madhu church and surrounding areas had been maintained as a peace zone into which armed combatants could not enter.

Three international NGO's (United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Medicine Sans Frontier and Save the Children Fund) and three local NGO's Sri Lanka Red Cross Society, Mannar Association for Reconstruction and Rehabilitation and Vaalvothayam) are still in the area, said officials.

The UNHCR is expected to move to Thatchanamaruthamadhu where a camp housing 7,500 refugees is run by its officials. Some of the other NGO's are planning to move to Murunkan.

Officials said that the MSF will remain in Madhu hospital for the time being as there are still people in the villages of Paalampiddy, Pandivirichchan who use the hospital as do refugees from Thatchanamaruthamadu.

Mannar government officials said that the refugees at Thatchanamaruthamadu will be transferred to welfare centres at Pesalai and Katkadanthakulam in Mannar after 500 families in these two camps have been resettled.

Officials said that it would take at least 3 months to resettle the families from Pesalai and Katkadanthukulam in villages like Madhu Road, Kaddaiadampan, Cheddiyaarmahan Kaddaiadampan, Murunkan, Murunkanpiddy and Chemmanthivu situated along the Mannar - Vavuniya trunk road, from Uylankulam to Madhu Road, about 22 miles south of Mannar town.

Sources said that to resettle these families along the main road authorities would have to seek permission from the Sri Lankan Army.

The camps at Pesalai and Katkadanthakulam are full with refugees from Madhu and it is difficult to accommodate the current number of refugees at Thatchanamaruthamadu.


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