Displaced Tamils Still Can’t Resume Normal Life
January 21st, 2011
This article was taken from the e-news digest, CathNews Asia.
More than 320,000 citizens suffer from being displaced, while 190,000 former refugees, returned home after stays in refugees camps – in the latest phases of civil conflict, which ended in May 2009 – urgently require protection and assistance: Jesuits from the Jesuit Refuges Service (JRS) tell Fides, working in the north and east of Sri Lanka, monitoring the situation on a daily basis, which “today is very stressful, given that it has already lasted more than two years,” they state.
The Jesuits explain to Fides that, despite the apparent peace, “in the north and the east of the Country there are still Zones of High Security in place and the citizens of those places continue to live precariously, not knowing when the emergency and the military presence will end and when they may return to a peaceful way of life.”
The JRS state that even today, after peace was reached, “the Government is investing a considerable amount of the national budget for military spending and allocating little funds to the assistance and systemisation of the refugees in the conflict. At the same time humanitarian aid agencies who should be providing aid to the displaced persons, experience serious limitations and restrictions on their operations”.
One of the outstanding problems is the clearance of whole area, which, during the war was strewn with deadly explosives. Currently these areas constitute a serious danger to the people: aid agencies are asking the government to urgently allow the refugees to return to their homes, giving highest priority to remediation. But given the situation of stalemate, access to food, social services, education, and transportation in many provinces remains blocked, the resumption of normal civilian life is prevented. Even in refugee camps set up by the government, NGOs in the field note, the general living conditions “are unacceptable”, marked by poverty, lacking the basic necessities and health services.”