ASSISTANCE TO 500 RESETTLED FAMILIES IN KELEBOGASWEWA VILLAGE
At a Ceremony held in the Village School, Minister of Resettlement, Hon. Gunaratne Weerakoon distributed resettlement assistance to newly resettled families in Kelebogaswewa village on March 02, 2013. This village is situated in the Vavuniya South Divisional Secretariat Division.
Among the key items distributed by the Minister of Resettlement were Tin Sheets and Bags of Cement at a cost of Rs. 12.00 Mn. In November 2012, the Ministry of Resettlement also provided resettlement assistance to 150 resettled families at the same village at a cost of Rs. 4.0Mn. Accordingly, the Ministry of Resettlement has now provided resettlement assistance to 650 families in the Kelebogaswewa village.
In addition to tin sheets and bags of cement, Hon. Minister also distributed bicycles and mosquito nets to a selected group of resettlers in the village.
Addressing the gathering of resettlers, Hon. Minister stressed that the resettlers should make best of the facilities that are being made available to them.
The Hon. Minister, officials of the Ministry, Mr. M.S.Janaka, Divisional Secretary/Vavuniya-South and Brigadier D.A.R. Ranawaka of the 56th Division of Srilanka Army who were present inspected the new school building that is being built for the benefit of the children of resettled families. Click here to view more photos.....
A GROUP OF 27 REFUGEES RETURNED HOME
A group of 27 refugees of Sri Lankan origin who lived in refugee camps in Southern India returned home on February 20, 2013.There is an estimated number of 68,000 refugees of Sri Lankan origin in 110 Camps in India (in addition to 34,470 living with friends and relatives). The Officials of the Ministry of Resettlement and United Nations High Commission for Refugees were present when this group of returnee refugees arrived at the Bandaranaike International Air Port.
The Government of Sri Lanka and the Ministry of Resettlement encourage the return of legitimate Sri Lankan refugees on a voluntary basis. During the period January 2011 to January 2013, such refugees numbering 3063had returned and they are currently in their places of origin.
According to a survey conducted by the UNHCR in Sri Lanka, 92% of such returnee refugeeshave stated that they are happy with their decision to return home.
PARLIAMENTARY CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE OF THE MINISTRY OF RESETTLEMENT IS CONVENED
Parliamentary Consultative Committee of Ministry of Resettlement met on February 19, 2013 at 2.30 p.m. in the Parliamentary Complex under the Chairmanship of Hon. Gunaratne Weerakoon, Minister of Resettlement. The Committee which consists of 25 Members of Parliament discussed among other things, the Annual Report and Accounts of the Resettlement Authority functioning under this Ministry for the years 2008, 2009 and 2010.
The Committee further discussed matters relating to improvements of housing and sanitary facilities in the war affected areas in Northern and Eastern Provinces focusing on resettled families.
ACTION PLAN ON WATER AND SANITATION UNVEILED
At a Seminar held on February 13, 2013 at its Auditorium, Water and Sanitation Action Plan of the Ministry of Resettlement was unveiled. The details of the Plan, to be implemented at a cost Rs. 116.0 million was presented at the Seminar by Mr. M.M. Nayeemudeen, Additional Secretary of the Ministry.
The Plan proposes to enhance water and sanitation facilities among resettled communities in the war affected areas of the northern and eastern provinces.
In his detailed presentation, Mr. Nayeemudeen explained the basis of allocation of funds among the Districts and stressed that allocation has been made taking into account the overall percentage of internally displaced persons in the Districts. However, in response to convincing requests made by those present which included Ministry officials and District Planning Directors among others, it was agreed to allow the Districts to choose priority sector based on pressing ground requirements.
In addition to the Water and Sanitation Project in the pipe line, the Seminar also discussed the overall development plan of the Ministry for the year 2013, proposed Corporate Plan of the Ministry for 2013-2016, implementation progress of on going projects in the Districts concerning internally displaced persons, overall unmet shelter, water and sanitary and other felt needs of resettled communities, progress in the implementation of two specific recommendations of the LLRC concerning the Ministry etc.
Those officials who attended the Seminar representing Districts welcomed the seminar as timely and proposed such inter action with the Ministry on a regular basis as the development work to be undertaken to empower once displaced and now resettled persons is substantial.
Mr. Janaka Sugathadasa, Secretary, MOR while noting the positive outcome of the interactive session, agreed to organize similar sessions on a regular basis in the future. While appreciating the good work done by the District Planning Secretariats in preparing and forwarding project proposals for consideration, Mr. Sugathadasa assured that projects that could not be accommodated due to funding constraints, will be considered for funding in 2014. Click here to view more photos>>
WATER AND SANITATION FACILITIES AT WELFARE CENTRES IN JAFFNA TO IMPROVE
A team of officials led by Janaka Sugathadasa, Secretary, Ministry of Resettlement (MOR) visited 12 open welfare centres located in Tellipalai, Kopay, Uduvil and Point Pedro Divisional Secretariat Divisions in the Jaffna District during February 9-10, 2013.
The team inspected the facilities available at these centres in general and water and sanitary requirements in particular. Having discussed such requirements with internally displaced persons (IDPs) and the local officials present, it was agreed to effect immediate repairs and new constructions required to improve water and sanitary facilities available. The repairs and new constructions agreed would cost Rs. 5.5 Million.
The team also took this opportunity to discuss with a cross section of IDPs of possible relocation options, in the event of their not being able to return to places of origin due to such land being required either for development projects or on account of national security. Those IDPs, who enthusiastically and positively engaged the visiting officials,expressed their willingness to consider alternate land, if such land is conducive for their livelihood. In this regard, the local officials who were present will initiate action to forward proposals for necessary policy action by the MOR.
During their visit to Jaffna, the MOR Team also visited the resettled Sinhala and Tamil families in Navatkuli area in Jaffna.On their visit to Moors Street in Jaffna, the team observed that a large number of Muslim families are yet to return from Puttalam, where they are currently living to their places of origin in Jaffna.
Mr. K. Nikarilkanth, Assistant Secretary/MOR, Mr. Sri Mohan, Divisional Secretary(Tellipalai), Mr.M. Pratheepan, Divisional Secretary (Kopay), Mrs. R. Naguleswaran, Assistant Director (Planning) of the Divisional Secretariat, Uduvil and Mrs. T. Jayaraja, Assistant Director (Planning) of the Divisional Secretariat, Point Pedro, were also in attendance. View more photos to click here>>>
MINISTRY TEAM IN - WELFARE CENTRES IN MUTHUR
A team of Officers of Ministry of Resettlement visited three welfare centres in the Muthur Divisional Secretary's Division on February 04, 2013. These welfare centres which are located at Manachunai, Pattaithital and Killvetty house 503 families numbering 1384 persons.
The Team inspected the general condition of temporary shelters provided to these persons who initially became internally displaced as a result of the war. However, as a result of the proposed establishment of an economic zone in the area they could not be resettled in their original village. Pending their relocation, for which they have to give consent, these families are temporary housed in the welfare centres. View more photos to click here>>>
SHELTER ASSISTANCE FOR PADAVIYA RESETTLERS
At a function held in Veherawewa in the Padaviya District Secretariat Division in Anuradhapura District on 03rd February 2013,Hon. H.M. Gunaratne Weerakoon, Minister of Resettlement and Hon. Tissa Karaliyadda, Minister of Child Development and Women’s Affairs distributed shelter assistance to 85 newly resettled families.These families have been resettled in Kambiliwewa, Weherawewa, Koongahawewa and Kohombagaswewa villages. Each families received 8 bags of Cement and 12 Tin Sheets as resettlement assistance from the Ministry of Resettlement.
During 30 years long conflict, the residents of these border villages were forced to leave their houses and sought refuge in elsewhere as they came under constant attacks by LTTE terrorists.
The above resettlement assistance was provided by the Resettlement Authority functioning under this Ministry through savings realized from its recurrent budget for 2012.
Addressing the gathering of beneficiaries and other villagers, who were present on the occasion, the two Ministers reiterated the commitment of the government to make available all the necessary infrastructure facilities including schools, electricity, roads etc. needed by resettled villagers enabling them to re-establish their once shattered lives. In addition to two Minister, provincial political leaders including K.H. Nandasena, Tourism and Cooperative Minister of North Central Province, Mrs. Kalyani Karaliyadda, Member of North Central Provincial Council, Mr. Dharma Shri Somathilake, Chairman of Padaviya Pradeshiya Sabhawere also participated at the function.
Mr. Janaka Sugathadasa, Secretary to the Ministry, Mr. Buddhi Passaperuma, Chairman, Resettlement Authority, Mr. E.M.D.B. Ekanayake, Director (Development) of the Ministry and Mr. Wasantha Kumara Liyanage, Divisional Secretary, Padaviya were also in attendance.
AUSTRALIAN PARLIAMENTARIANS VISIT MINISTRY OF RESETTLEMENT
A team of Australian Parliamentarians led by Ms. Julie Bishop, MP, Deputy Leader of Opposition and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade visited Ministry of Resettlement and held wide ranging discussions with Mr. Janaka Sugathadasa, Secretary, Ministry of Resettlement and other Senior Officials of the Ministry on resettlement and post resettlement related issues.
During a frank and constructive exchange of views, the visiting delegation inquired among other things, the process adopted for resettlement of internally displaced persons, progress in the arrival and resettlement of Sri Lankan refugees in Tamil Nadu in India.
The Officials of the Ministry explained in detail the development initiatives undertaken by the Government of Sri Lanka and projects that are in the pipeline for improvement in the provision of water, sanitation and housing facilities to the internally displaced persons and returnee refugees in the war affected areas.
In addition to Ms. Bishop , the Australian delegation comprised of Mr. Michael Keenan, Shadow Minister for Justice, Customs and Border Protection and Mr. Scott Morrison, M.P., Shadow Minister of Immigration and Citizenship .
The Australian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka Ms. Robyn Mudie accompanied the Australian delegation.
DISCUSSION ON 2013 WORK PLAN
With a view to brief its work programme for the year 2013, the Ministry of Resettlement invited Colombo based representatives of international agencies involved in humanitarian and development assistance in the war affected Northern and Eastern provinces of the country for a series of discussion. In addition to the programmes planned by the Ministry, emerging post resettlement issues and challenges in sustaining and complementing post war basic infrastructure development was also discussed at these meetings. The visiting officials of the agencies concerned briefed the top officials of the Ministry of their own programmes that are in the pipeline.
During the meeting held on January 15, 2013 between Mr. Janaka Sugathadasa, Secretary, Ministry of Resettlement and Mr. Laxman Perera, Representative of UNHABITAT, the duo exchanged views on the need to make a realistic assessment of the shelter requirements in the war affected areas. They noted that taking into account assistance already pledged by donors and the projects that are in the pipeline, there would be an estimated new shelter stock of 80,000 units in the former war affected provinces by end of 2015, whereas the need would be of about 100000 units. It was agreed that the Ministry of Resettlement and UNHABITAT along with other concerned agencies should work in close cooperation towards realizing that challenging target.
In their discussion on the refugees of Sri Lankan origin currently in overseas in general and in Southern India in particular, the Secretary briefed Mr. Michael Zwak, UNHCR Representative in Colombo of the plans of the Ministry to accelerate the pace of ongoing voluntary repatriation programme. Briefing the representatives of UNHCR further, Secretary stated that the Ministry is in the process of identifying and compiling a detailed profile of would be returnee refugees enabling the implementation of policies that would facilitate and encourage refugees to decide on their return to Sri Lanka. Mr. Zwack expressed the willingness on the part of UNHCR to assist the Ministry in this endeavor.
In their discussion held on January 22, 2013 Mr. Richard Danziger, Chief of Mission of Sri Lanka and Maldives and Mr. Giuseppe Loprete of the International Organization of Migration, the Secretary briefed the visiting representatives of the future work programme of the Ministry in the areas of resettlement of internally displaced persons, returning refugees and meeting water and sanitation requirements in the war affected areas. While welcoming Ministry’s intervention in these spheres, Mr. Danziger expressed the desire of his organization to assist the Ministry with regard to the voluntary repatriation of refugees in Sri Lankan origin but, currently in India.
Ms. Fotini Rantsiou, Officer-in-Charge of United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs along with Mrs. Krishanthi Weerakoon, Project Officer in their discussions at the Ministry of Resettlement 0n January 28, 2013 informed that their Agency is currently undergoing a process of restructuring, but will continue to work especially with regard to rehabilitation of ex-combatants. At the request of Ms. Rantsiou, the Secretary gave a comprehensive briefing on remaining key resettlement issues and also plans of the Ministry in addressing such issues.
Mr. M.M. Nayeemudeen, Additional Secretary of the Ministry was also present and involved at the above discussions.
A NEW MODEL VILLAGE IN KEPAPILAVU, MULLAITIVU
Development of a model village in Kepapilavu in mullaitivu was inaugurated by Hon. Gunaratne Weerakoon, Minister of Resettlement on November 02, 2012.
165 Families from the kepapilavu Village, who were housed at the Menikfarm Relief Village in Vavuniya, could not be resettled in their original land due to their land in the village being required for the Security Forces Head Quarters in Mullaitivu. Therefore, action was taken by the Ministry of Resettlement to develop a new model village in Seeniamottei in close proximity to their original village to relocate the affected families.
Under this project, houses for 165 families will be constructed in two stages. Apart from houses, 05 common Dug well, 10Tube Wells, 165 Toilets, a Community Center, a Pre School, 10 Km of Internal roads will also be constructed at a total cost of Rs, 111.16 Mn. The Sri Lanka Army in Mullaitivu is in the forefront in constructing those houses. At a ceremony held on November 02,2012, Hon. Gunaratne Weerakoon, Minister of Resettlement handed over Certificates of Entitlements to the beneficiaries.
Construction of 50 houses under the first phase of the project is nearly completion. The construction of balance houses will commence shortly.