Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: North East Joint Humanitarian Update - Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar, Vavuniya, and Trincomalee Districts Report No. 07, 15 - 28 Aug 2009


I. Situation Overview & highlights

- On 18 August, the Ministry of Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services called for registrations by persons seeking to claim ownership of land in the north and east, which they had been compelled to abandon during the last 30 years of conflict.

- On 26 August, the Government of Switzerland donated Rs. 7.1 million worth of urgently required medical supplies to the Ministry of Health (MoH) for distribution to health facilities treating Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) in the north.

- On 28 August, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions Philip Alston called for an independent inquiry to determine the authenticity of a video clip allegedly showing Sri Lankan troops executing prisoners. The footage was obtained by the English television station, Channel Four, from a group calling itself Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan Government has dismissed the video clip as a fabrication, categorically denying the allegation that Sri Lankan forces committed war crimes during the capture of the LTTE stronghold in the north.

- On 28 August, Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe stated that the government has reliable information that LTTE cadres have infiltrated the IDP sites. The government will continue to limit the IDPs' freedom of movement, until the screening process is complete and these elements are identified and apprehended.

- The Sri Lankan Government released on bail four doctors detained under the emergency regulations on charges of giving false information to the media about civilian casualties in Kilinochchi early this year. The fifth doctor's whereabouts, after he was taken into custody, are unknown.

- Romesh Jayasinghe, the current High Commissioner for Sri Lanka in New Delhi, has been appointed as the new Foreign Secretary with effect from 1 October. He will succeed Dr. Palitha Kohona, the current Foreign Secretary, who has been appointed as Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York.


- On 27 August, the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Northern Development, Senior Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa handed an approximately 8 square kilometre (2,100 acres) area in Ariyalai East, Maruvanpulavu and Thanankelapu to farmers to resume agricultural activity. Some of this land had previously been out of bounds within a High Security Zone.

- On 28 August, a group of 754 persons (221 families) displaced in August 2006 from the Allaipiddy and Mankumban villages on the island of Velani (Velani District Secretariat Division) returned to their homes.


- On 20 August, 48 IDP families (130 individuals) displaced in 2006 were transferred from IDP sites in Batticaloa District to Kaddaiparichchan, Trincomalee District. The IDPs are from the Sampur East, Sampur West, Kunathivu, Kaddaikaraichchennai and Nawaratnapuram Grama Niladhari divisions, in Trincomalee District. They are unable to return home, since their land is within a High Security Zone. The IDPs are being accommodated in Kaddaiparichchan School and another public building.


- On 26 August, over 800 Hindu and Catholic priests were released from IDP camps in Vavuniya.


- On 16 August, the Bahraini Prime Minister His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Salman Al-Khalifa announced a donation of US$ 1 million to Sri Lanka to be utilized for the resettlement and rehabilitation of IDPs in the north.

- On 19 August, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced a grant of US$ 2 million, through the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), to support the welfare and safety of IDPs until they can return home. A grant to Internews will support the production and dissemination of news and information to IDPs in Menik Farm. A second grant to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) will address humanitarian needs in the north.

- On 19 August, the Embassy of the United States of America in Colombo announced a grant of US$6 million by the United States Government for demining activities to help people displaced by the conflict in the north return to their homes as quickly as possible. The funding is being provided through the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Political and Military Affairs Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (State/PMWRA). It will be shared between the Danish Demining Group (DDG), the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD), The Halo Trust and Mines Advisory Group (MAG) to hire additional staff for survey and demining teams and purchase new equipment.

- On 26 August, the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) announced a grant of £75,000 to OCHA Sri Lanka. The funding is for OCHA's Information Management Unit (IMU) towards the continued delivery of an information management service for the humanitarian community in Sri Lanka.

- The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has approved a project entitled 'Enhancing Food

Security and Nutrition among the most vulnerable farm families in Eastern Sri Lanka'. The € 5,127,252 project is funded by a donation to FAO from the European Commission. The project's objective is to restore and enhance agriculture to ensure food security among returning or recently resettled families in the Trincomalee and Batticaloa districts. It is also intended to ensure that vulnerable returnee farmers have security of tenure over their former lands.