Nearly 2.1 lakh IDPs resettled in North Lanka



Colombo: Nearly 2.1 lakh IDPs have been resettled in Northern Sri Lanka so far, a senior official said on Monday adding that still 70,000 displaced Tamils remain in relief villages.

Chandra Fernando, the Presidential Advisor to the Uthuru Wasanthaya Programme for the development of Northern Sri Lanka said the resettlement process in the North will be completed within the next few weeks.

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wicremanayake late last week had told Parliament that the deadline of January 31, 2010 for resettling all the IDPs had been hampered due to the presence of several mines in the North.

Meanwhile, development work in the A 9 and A 32 highways connected the North and East has been accelerated.

Nearly 2.1 lakh IDPs have been settled so far Fernando said adding there are about 70,000 IDPs still housed in relief villages.

Several of them have moved into transit camps before being resettled in their original homes, according to officials. Meanwhile, Fernando expressed confidence that the remaining IDPs will also be resettled soon.

Fernando also said the business activities in the north had started getting vibrant after over eights months of defeat of the LTTE. The opposition parties have been targeting the Rajapaksa government on this count.

The IDP resettlement allowance has also been increased from Rs 25,000 to 50,000 in addition to the Rs 5,000 cash and dry ration for six months. The President had recently decided to double the resettlement allowance paid to IDPs with effect from December 15, 2009.

This meant that IDPs will receive Sri Lankan Rs 50,000 instead of the earlier Rs 25,000 paid to them after they are resettled in their homesteads in the North.

This resettlement allowance is being paid in addition to other existing financial assistance to acquire fishing and agricultural gear. Government Agent for Vavuniya said it was also decided to double the monetary relief to be deposited in the savings bank account of the IDPs to Rs 50,000.

In addition, Rs 5,000 in cash, six months ration and an emergency kit with roofing and bed sheets are being given. India is providing Galvanised Corrugated (GC) sheets worth USD 5.3 million to Sri Lanka for the benefit of displaced Tamil civilians.

The GC sheets are meant to construct shelters for the civilians in their new places of habitation in Sri Lanka.

The sheets have been distributed in Jaffna, Vavuniya, Mullaitivu and Killinochchi. The US Agency for International Development, meanwhile, has announced USD 3 million in new funding to support the operations of the International Organisation of Migration to facilitate the return and resettlement of the IDPs in the North.

The assistance will include transport to allow IDPs to return to their home districts; emergency shelter kits to build temporary housing and transitional shelters, a statement said. It will also include water and sanitation facilities; and the provision of emergency health services across the region.

PTI