Jaffna IDPs in welfare centres to be resettled before 2022
No solution for over 3,000 IDP families living with friends, relatives
All internally displaced persons (IDPs) currently living in welfare centres within the district of Jaffna are scheduled to be resettled before the end of the year, The Morning learnt.
The Jaffna District Secretariat, together with the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing, is aiming to resettle all IDPs presently accommodated in welfare centres in the Jaffna district within the course of this year.
“There are currently 409 families living in approximately 23 welfare centres in the district. We hope to resettle all of them within this year,” Jaffna District Secretary Kanapathipillai Mahesan told The Morning yesterday (8).
Mahesan further said that the issue of procuring land for the families is the biggest barrier to resettlement. This, he added, is due to a lack of available State lands and the cost of private lands.
As such, earlier this month, the Cabinet of Ministers had approved a resolution submitted by the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing to purchase up to 20 perches of land per family for 233 internally displaced families in the Jaffna district.
Speaking to The Morning yesterday, Jaffna Additional District Secretary S. Muralitharan said that 22 of the 233 families would be able to obtain their lands next week, whilst 53 families have identified the lands they want, which the Valuation Department is at present assessing. Muralitharan said that land for these 75 families would be ready this month, after which the construction of the houses would take approximately five months.
Additionally, the remaining 158 families have been asked to identify the lands which they wish to procure following which the Government-mandated valuation would proceed and purchase could take place by June this year.
Muralitharan further said that from the aforementioned 409 families, 90 possessed their own lands, 86 had obtained lands through the Government last year and were awaiting the completion of the construction of their houses, while the remaining 233 would be able to obtain lands through the most recent Cabinet approval.
Muralitharan also said that although 90 families have their own lands, these are currently being used by the Tri-Forces, and that therefore, the District Secretariat is expecting alternative solutions in this regard from the Government within the course of this year. However, Muralitharan told The Morning that he is hopeful that the issue would be resolved for all 409 families within this year.
Ministry of Urban Development and Housing Secretary Nimal Perera was not available for comment when contacted regarding the alternative solutions that would be provided for the 90 families.
According to the Jaffna District Secretariat, since 2009 38,025 families (122,140) were resettled, of which 117,151 were IDPs and 4,989 were Sri Lankan refugee returnees from India (Sri Lankans who left for India during the conflict period and have now returned to Sri Lanka).
Meanwhile, the Jaffna Social Action Centre (JSAC) told The Morning that resettled families often face problems of poverty which lead to many social issues such as drug addiction and gender-based violence.
In Sri Lanka, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) monitors and assists 25,110 IDPs.
Additionally, Muralitharan also said that there are 3,056 internally displaced families currently living with friends and relatives who have not received solutions either.