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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2702

Sri Lanka: Displaced in the restive Batticaloa to be sheltered in private and state lands

By Vandana Jayasinghe – Asian Tribune

Colombo, 11 January, (Asiantribune.com): Thousands of displaced families fled from LTTE control areas now seeking shelter in schools in Batticaloa district will be resettled in private and state lands next week to vacate the schools to commence the new term.

A total of 9,063 refugee families are temporary housed in 51 camps including 39 schools. With the commencement of the new term the number of schools has been reduced to 16 and they will be cleaned and re-arranged in next few days before opening of schools.

The Government Agent Batticaloa Sundram Arunmainayakam told the 'Asian Tribune' that over 53,850 displaced people are now sheltered in camps in the district and they are given the basic facilities with the assistance of the local and international NGOs.

The government has identified state and private lands to resettle these families living in schools. Food has been provided with the support of the World Food Program, sanitary facilities under UNICEF assistance and several health camps have been conducted by the Department of Health.

The GA said that over 31,850 people were living in temporary camps within the district and nearly 22,000 people were sheltered in their relatives and friends houses and in public places. "Among these people, there are infants and school going children," he said.

According to Arunmainayakam, majority of these displaced people are from Vaharai and Trincomalee. He said that there was no shortage of essential items in these camps, but there was a serious humanitarian crisis in un-cleared areas and the proper situation could not be divulged due to lack of information about the situation of the civilians.

He said the Additional GA had a meeting with the officials of the Ministry of Disaster Management to expedite the humanitarian services for the displaced people last week.

When contacted the Divisional Secretary M. Udaya Kumar, he said that still there were no chance to re-open 10 schools, since there were no land to be given to the displaced families sheltered in these schools. Out of 12 schools which housed the refugees only two schools will be re-opened for the new term.

He said that there were 22 refugee camps in the Manmunai North and they are from Vaharai, Mudthur, Sampur and other villages where the fighting between the government and the LTTE was going on.
There are 8,953 people in these camps and over 2,307 people are living with their friends and relatives. Among them, there are 275 infants, 723 children age below five and over 2,000 school going children.

The basic needs of these people have been fulfilled with the assistance of the local and international NGOs. The UNCHR has provided tents and the health camps have been conducted by the Department of Health and the Ramakrishna Mission.

"The main problem is finding alternative lands to shelter these people. There are no additional lands in the division. So these people can not be moved to start schools. Children of displaced families and also school going children in the division suffer and their education has been disrupted. Only two schools will be opened On Monday," he said.

- Asian Tribune -

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