HSZs, scant funds slow resettlement in Jaffna

[TamilNet, Monday, 31 March 2003, 15:09 GMT]
The flow of refugees returning from the Vanni to resettle in Jaffna has slowed down because the fate of their villages and towns occupied by the Sri Lanka army (SLA) inside High Security Zones in the northern peninsula still remains uncertain, a senior government official said Monday.

Acute shortage of rehabilitation funds from Colombo and the SLA’s insistence on keeping the HSZs in place have dashed the hopes of more than forty percent of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who were eager to resettle in their homes in Jaffna, according to figures gathered by officials.

Between 22 February 2002 and 28 February 2003, 41598 families returned to resettle in their homes in Jaffna. The IDPs numbering 153,742 were displaced mainly from Chavakachcheri and Vadamaradchi East and were temporarily sheltered in Pt. Pedro and Nelliyadi.

During this period 10232 refugee families (30460 persons) came from the Kilinochchi District and 2680 families (6526 persons) returned from the Mullaithivu District to resettle in their villages and towns in the northern peninsula, officials at the Jaffna District Secretariat told Tamilnet.

“We are now granting 25000 rupees (260 USD) for a resettling family to repair its home. But to make basic repairs to a house a family would need at least 100,000 rupees at today’s prices for building materials”, said Ms. Thilakanayakam Paul Paththiniyamma, Additional GA for Jaffna.

“Even with the current lower rate for house repair granted by the government, we need 20 billion rupees to resettle IDPs in Jaffna” Ms. Paul said.

Each returning refugee family has to register with the local village officer and is entitled to dry rations to the value of 1050 rupees (11 USD) per month.

Many families are awaiting monies promised for repairing their war damaged homes.

Meanwhile, 18 Jaffna refugees, including several children, who returned by sea to Mannar from the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu were produced in the Mannar courts Monday. The group was arrested by the Sri Lankan Police in Talaimannar Sunday. Many in the group are from the village of Valvettithurai.

A refugee in the group told Tamilnet they had set out from Rameswaram on the southern tip of Tamil Nadu and had paid 4000 Indian rupees for the boat that smuggled them across to Mannar.

He said thousands of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees who are eager to return to their homes are unable to do so because of severe restrictions imposed by Indian officials.

 

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