The director of the Coordination and Response Division of the UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), John Ging, made a number of comments following a 3 day official visit to Sri Lanka.
The UN official visited the North-East, where many people still lack basic services and facilities, following the Sri Lankan government onslaught in 2009.
According to OCHA people in the region have asked for basic assistance such as sanitary facilities, clean water, shelter, electricity and livelihoods support.
Commenting on the situation, Ging said:
“In 2012, it is absolutely unacceptable that tens of thousands of people are living in such appalling conditions without access to the most basic services,”
Speaking on the importance of donors to increase humanitarian contributions, Ging said,
“We need their help to restore dignity and hope for those who have endured and lost so much and now urgently need support in rebuilding their lives,”
The Economic Development Minister, Basil Rajapaksa, assured Ging that Sri Lanka had ‘successfully resettled’ people that were displaced during the end of the conflict, stressing that the current issue was that people displaced during the earlier periods of conflict still remained to be resettled.
Minister Rajapksa’s ‘resettlement’ assurances come in the light of reports of evictions of Tamil families, just 2 weeks after being 'resettled' and Sinhala military settlements in Tamil areas.
Furthermore documents gathered from Mullaitivu district, reveal that the new settlements being built for the military were to cost 3 times more than the settlements promised to the displaced Tamils.
At the start of 2012, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), acknowledged that 400,000 internally displaced peoples (IDP’s) had been allowed to return home, but stressed that it did not mean that the IDP’s had reached a desirable solution, recognising that they were still in need of assistance and protection. According to the IDMC, approximately 100,000 IDPs remain in the infamous displacement camps.
The continued land grabbing, militarisation, Sinhala colonisation, lack of educational infrastructure development and IDMC findings, strongly suggest that the Sri Lankan government’s idea of ‘resettlement’ will not fulfil Mr. Jing’s recognition of the need to, “restore the dignity and hope for those who have endured and lost so much and now urgently need support in rebuilding their lives.”
Ging however praised Sri Lanka on the scale of the resettlement and development of infrastructure.
If the term ‘scale of resettlement and development of infrastructure’ includes the scale of the Sinhala colonisation in the northern provinces, and the development of Hambantota, then yes praise is most certainly due.