Another first in resettling IDPs
Sri Lanka, after becoming the
first country to eradicate terrorism through a successful humanitarian
operation, has reached another first by resettling the displaced persons
in double quick time.
Just five months after liberating the entire country from the
clutches of LTTE terror, the Government has successfully resettled more
than 100,000 people.
Despite facing many obstacles and logistical problems such as the
clearing of landmines, development of the road network, construction of
houses and supply of essential items, the Government has successfully
resettled over 100,000 displaced people under the 'Uthuru Wasanthaya'
(Northern Spring) program.
Though there had been some concocted stories by a handful of
opportunistic politicians and certain International Non-Governmental
Organisations (INGOs) with vested interests, the masses are now
overjoyed with the sweeping changes taking place in the Northern
Perhaps, the conditions in the camps for Internally Displaced Persons
(IDPs) may not seem impressive to opportunistic Opposition politicians.
But the international community and even certain INGOs which had been
critical of the Government during the recent humanitarian operations,
have openly commended the improved facilities at IDP camps.
Infrastructure development in the North and the East is going ahead
at a rapid pace. People in the East have already started contributing to
the national economy. Once the people in the North too make a similar
contribution, the country could achieve significant economic
Moreover, tourism, agriculture and dairy industries have shown a
marked improvement and once those sectors reach their peak levels, Sri
Lanka could establish an all-time high economic development.
The livewire behind the massive development and resettlement programs
in the North and East is none other than Senior Presidential Advisor and
Parliamentarian Basil Rajapaksa who is engaged in an ambitious program
to provide a better tomorrow for those displaced as a result of LTTE
Out of the 285,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North,
100,000 have already been resettled in their own villages and hometowns.
One of the main constraints in resettling the IDPs in their hometowns or
villages was the time needed to clear the areas through a speedy
de-mining process. The aim of the Government is to clear the areas where
people have to be resettled, of the large number of landmines that had
been laid by the LTTE.
The Government has accelerated the de-mining process after acquiring
14 de-mining machines to quicken the process and the entire Mannar
District will be cleared by early next month. The LTTE indiscriminately
used mines even in civilian populated areas, demonstrating the total
disregard they had for international humanitarian norms and for civilian
Unfortunately, only a handful of friendly countries supported Sri
Lanka in the battle against terrorism. Hardly any international
organisation or INGO exposed the grave inhuman acts of Velupillai
Prabhakaran and his ruthless terror outfit.
With the end of the conflict in Sri Lanka, large quantities of mines
laid by the LTTE in former LTTE-dominated areas are being recovered by
Initially, there was a big hue and cry over the resettlement of IDPs,
but the Government's aim was to obtain a security guarantee for those
areas as it cannot risk civilian lives due to landmines. But most of
those who levelled allegations on the resettlement process have now
understood the genuine efforts of the Government to find a secure future
for the displaced people.
A responsible Government cannot allow its people to become victims of
landmines. That was precisely why the Government had to take a few
months to resettle the IDPs. The Sri Lanka Army, during the humanitarian
de-mining operations, cleared over 40 million square metres.
Approximately 10,000 mines and Unexploded Explosive Ordnance (UXOs) in
the Wanni, have been recovered to date.
The common theme linking all these is the humanitarian consideration.
All remaining displaced persons at IDP camps would be resettled in
double quick time, preferably before the end of this year. The objective
of President Mahinda Rajapaksa is to resettle all IDPs soon and ensure
that normality returns to the North and East with adequate security for
the people. The speedy resettlement of IDPs is a critical element of
Countries such as the United States have welcomed the Government's
acceleration of the resettlement of IDPs. The Government has already
announced that it plans to resettle a further 40,000 IDPs in the next
There were many developments in Tamil Nadu over the IDP issue in the
But the Government was transparent and invited a group of Tamil Nadu
politicians here to gain firsthand information. They were more than
happy to observe the steps taken by the Government for the betterment of
Certain opportunistic Opposition politicians made desperate attempts
to gain political mileage through the IDP problem, but now, the truth
has emerged victorious. India is satisfied with the steps taken by Sri
Lanka to rehabilitate the displaced. The Indian Minister of State for
External Affairs, Preneet Kaur has said that they are happy with the
The Government headed by President Rajapaksa has a proven track
record when it comes to the eradication of terrorism and resettlement of
displaced persons. First, it was in the Eastern Province and now, the
resettlement program is continuing in the North even faster.
As many world leaders have pointed out, Sri Lanka is an example to
the world when it comes to counter-terrorism activities and the
resettlement of displaced persons. President Rajapaksa and his
Government handled both these issues in an exemplary manner, throwing
aside many allegations by interested parties. They will no doubt
successfully complete this noble mission in the near future.