14 November 2009

Sri Lanka: Resettlement for displaced families finally gathers pace

  1. A long line of displaced people forms to receive World Vision relief supplies.
  2. World Vision is providing clean water in Sri Lanka’s displacement camps.
  3. Displacement camps already stretched to capacity are struggling to accommodate new arrivals. © STR New / Reuters
  4. A group of civilians emerge from the conflict zone. © David Gray / Reuters
  5. After being displaced multiple times, civilians are exhausted and in desperate need of help. © Stringer Sri Lanka / Reuters

14 November 2009

With the long awaited resettlement process of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in northern Sri Lanka finally gathering pace, World Vision is planning to help families rebuild their lives as they return home.

When the war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) ended in May 2009, over 280,000 people from the north were housed in displacement camps. This posed a huge challenge for the Government and aid agencies to support them.

In June, the Government announced it would resettle 80% of the IDPs in displacement camps in a 180-day resettlement programme.

“We all have a moral responsibility to assist these fractured communities – especially the children – to heal and to rebuild their lives and have a real chance of creating a future for themselves once again,” said Suresh Bartlett, World Vision Lanka’s National Director. “We should not allow the situation to ever return to the era of bitter mistrust and conflict.”

In the last week of October 2009, there was a significant increase in the numbers of people released from the camps to their original homes or other locations within their home districts. These areas included Jaffna, Vavuniya, the Mannar rice bowl, and regions of Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi.

Nearly 100,000 people have now been released from the camps and around 2,000 people are being resettled daily.

Resettlement has been slow due to screening processes, clearance of landmines and unexploded ordnance and the lack of basic infrastructure to support the setting up of livelihoods for returnees.

“World Vision is planning to support the return of the IDPs back to their homes and helping them to rebuild their lives. We have been supporting the emergency relief phase and would like to play a key role in the return phase,” said Bartlett.

World Vision has had a presence in northern Sri Lanka for 15 years, working with communities to provide emergency relief and rehabilitation assistance. World Vision is planning to support livelihood asset recovery and work in the areas of shelter, water, sanitation, child protection, and local capacities for peace.

Since May this year, World Vision has trucked more than 12 million litres of water to the camps, distributed over 150,000 packets of cooked food and supplied 95 metric tonnes of complementary food to the communal kitchens.

World Vision has also been assisting those in the camps with shelter, non-food relief items, nutrition, education and psychosocial programmes for children. World Vision has also set up Child Friendly Spaces and Temporary Learning Shelters for over 3,500 children.