Feature Article

Refugees eager to resettle, demand basic facilities

[TamilNet, Friday, 08 November 2002, 09:42 GMT]
"We have been languishing in refugee camps for too long. Although we like to use the current climate of peace to resettle in our own villages, without basic amenities such as housing, roads, drinking water and health facilities it will not be possible for us to move," said the internally displaced living in the Kalmadu refugee camp in Valaichenai.


Kalmadu refugee camp.
Kalmadu refugee camp in Valaichenai.
Most of the residents of Batticaloa-Polannaruwa border villages of Vadamunai, Punanai and Uthuchenai took refuge in Valaichenai following the break-out of war in 1990. After the Mylanthanai massacre in 1992 when the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) soldiers killed and seriously wounded more than 50 villagers, remaining residents in these villages joined the others in Valaichenai as refugees.

Initially the refugees were accommodated in temporary huts in Pethalai. Later they were transferred to larger huts built in vacant land in Kalmadu.


Mr.K. Rasamanikam
Mr.K.Rasamanikam, one of the refugees at Kalmadu.
From Uthuchenai, 211 families live in refugee camps and 58 families live with their friends or relatives. 143 families from Vadamunai live in refugee camps and 76 families live with friends or relatives. From Punani which includes the village of Mylanthanai, 184 families live in refugee camp and 49 live with friends and relatives.

The Ministry of Rehabilitation provides dry rations to the refugees through the district secretariat equivalent to an amount of Rs 366 for 1 member, Rs 616 for two, Rs 840 for three, Rs 1008 for four and Rs 1260 for a five member family a month.

Last Sunday when Commissioner of Rehabilitation, R. Thayaparan, District Secretary, S. Muralitharan, and independent Member of Parliament (MP) G. Krishnapillai were visiting the camp, refugees complained that rations have been suspended for 90 families. If a member goes abroad as a maid or if a family builds a cottage for itself the authorities suspend issuing rations.

The affected refugees pointed out that many who went abroad have returned and are struggling to repay the loans and that others who built huts did so under severe hardship to enable newly married children to live independently. K. Rasamanikam, one of the refugees, told the visiting MP and others that only in Kalmadu camp that the practice of ration suspension is exercised.


Mr.Muralitharan
Kiran District secretary Mr.Muralitharan.
Kiran District secretary Muralitharan empathized with the refugees but said that only recently the villages were brought under Kiran jurisdiction. He added that suspension of rations was implemented by the Valaichenai secretariat at the time the villages were inside Valaichenai, and that he does not have the authority to remove the suspension.

R. Thayaparan said, "the unfortunate suspension of rations has started even before he took office. But we are spending a lot of effort towards preparing for resettlement and when that takes place all necessary facilities will be provided for them."


Kalmadu refugee camp.
Kalmadu refugee camp in Valaichenai.

 

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