Considerable progress has been made towards the commitment by the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) to finding a durable solution for all people displaced by the war, including return to their home areas. Since the humanitarian crisis triggered by the internal displacement of nearly 300,000 people from the conflict zone in 2008 and into 2009, the GoSL ensured basic humanitarian assistance to those in camps, supported by the United Nations (UN), national non-governmental organizations (NGOs), international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), and international organizations (IOs). Soon after the conflict ended, the GoSL launched a sustained resettlement campaign for the displaced, beginning with the 180-day Programme in mid-2009, engaging closely with partners in rapid early recovery interventions to stabilize returning communities. Building upon these achievements, the GoSL’s ‘Uthuru Wasanthaya’ (Northern Spring) programme serves as the master plan for resettlement and development of the Northern Province (NP). Also, the GoSL is keen to find durable solutions for a significant number of people displaced prior to 2008.
Over the last two and a half years, the GoSL and partners have committed significant resources to help former internally displaced people (IDPs) return to their home areas and rebuild their lives post-displacement. By 31 October 2011, 456,000 people (138,000 families) displaced at various stages of the three-decade long conflict had returned to the five northern districts of origin. Through close collaboration, line ministries, district administrations and agencies have worked together to meet the returnees’ immediate needs for shelter, food, health, nutrition and education, while working to restore basic services, infrastructure and livelihoods. The GoSL places a high priority on accelerated economic growth to help people living in the NP regain a sense of normality and stability in the aftermath of the conflict.
Where returnees have been back in their areas of origin for some time and resumed their basic livelihoods, the GoSL and partners are focusing on broader interventions to strengthen market linkages and value-production to support the transition from aid reliance to self-reliance. Along with the gathering of momentum in early recovery and development, partners continue to address significant pockets of residual humanitarian needs, such as in areas of comparatively recent resettlement. Furthermore, the special needs of particularly vulnerable groups--households led by single women, separated children and unaccompanied minors, the elderly, disabled individuals and others--demand more attention. In addition to their material needs, returnees are seeking solutions to issues such as land ownership, civil and legal documentation, equal access to resources, and response to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), many of which are anchored in full restoration and strengthening of the district civil administrations.
The remaining people displaced since 2008 and currently living in camps, with host families or in transit sites need assistance until a durable solution can be found. This includes 6,130 IDPs (1,833 families) in the Menik Farm site. The majority hail from regions in the Mullaitivu District, seven Grama Niladhari Divisions (GNDs) each in the Puthukkudiyiruppu and Maritimepattu Divisional Secretariat Divisions (DSDs) in Mullaitivu District, and three GNDs in Pachchilapallai DSD in Killinochchi District. The GoSL has also requested consideration in the JPA of 25,000 refugees who may voluntarily repatriate from India and elsewhere.
Thus, the JPA for the NP in 2012 will target the most vulnerable people, made up of different categories of IDPs, the recently resettled and voluntarily repatriating refugees. The numbers, however, require major verification through joint assessments and surveys to establish the current situations of the different categories of targeted individuals and households and progress towards a durable solution.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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