OMP urges govt. to include families of missing persons in relief measures

The Office on Missing Persons (OMP) has urged the government to include  families of the missing and disappeared in any proposed relief measures, including the provision of food and financial assistance in response to the current crisis.

“The lockdown and the subsequent curfew that was imposed in order to minimize and prevent the spread of the virus have created difficulties, particularly for the more vulnerable sections of Sri Lankan society. The OMP wishes to bring to your attention the need to include one such extremely vulnerable group – the families of the missing and disappeared – whose situation should be considered when developing relief measures in the current context,” OMP Chairman Saliya Pieris said in a letter addressed to Chairman, Presidential task force to ensure continuous supply of essential services, Basil Rajapaksa.

“The OMP observes that Gazette No 2168/8, dated 6 March 2020 which establishes the Presidential Task Force, at paragraph 11, provides the Task Force with a specific mandate to “take steps to focus special attention on women, low-income families and persons directly at risk when undertaking above measures.”

OMP recommends that as a short-term measure dry rations be provided to families of the missing and disappeared through Grama Niladharis.

“Grama Niladharis have already collected information regarding missing and disappeared in their local area, and such lists could be used to avoid duplication in instances where such families are also beneficiaries under other state assistance schemes for vulnerable persons,” OMP added.