11/13/2009

Provide access to NGOs to assist resettlement - National Peace Council


(November 13, Colombo - Lanka PolitySri Lanka's National Peace Council urges the Government of Sri Lanka to permit both international and local NGOs who have staff that is experienced in responding to humanitarian and resettlement needs of affected communities to work in partnership with affected communities and government structures at the local level to accelerate the resettlement process. 

"Since the provision of basic humanitarian needs is a primary function of civil society, we request the Government to maximize the use of civil society resources to meet urgent needs through mechanisms such as mobile health clinics, psycho-social support and house building. We urge the Government to facilitate the efforts of civil society groups to rebuild trust and establish a base of continuous dialogue so that both can work efficiently together to assist the displaced. Showing concern for IDP needs by providing them with basic requirements for survival and sufficient tools to rebuild their lives will also help develop trust between the Government and the displaced people, a crucial component of reconciliation," says the National Peace Council.

Recently, several media reported pessimistically about the resettlement programme of the government saying that the IDPs had been re-positioned in smaller camps instead of resettling them in their villages. Some media said that the government resorted to this action aiming to divert international pressure, to manage the mounting tension among the large groups of IDPs and also for the better manipulation of the voters at upcoming elections. 

Current reports indicate that nearly130,000 IDPs are being resettled either with their relatives or in vacant houses.  National Peace Council says, "These temporary arrangements are not going to solve their long standing problems.  The Government needs to reassure these people that they are entitled to resettlement again to their own places from where they have come from."

At least 280,000 persons who were displaced from the island's Northern Province during the last stages of Sri Lanka Government's war against the Tamil rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam, were confined to welfare centers from which they were not permitted to leave. Hundreds of thousands of people still languish in these camps amidst pressure to the government to speed up resettling them. 

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