By Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai
June 20th 2007 is sixth anniversary of United Nations designated World Refugee Day; a day marked around the globe calling for focus and attention on the matter.
In Sri Lanka, the total number of persons displaced after April 7 th 2006 till April 16th 2007 is 301,879 – total number of families 81,399 according to UNHCR.
Approximately 1,42,633 Internally Displaced Persons (38,583 families) were registered in Batticaloa district according to UNHCR. The people were displaced due to heavy fighting between the security forces and Liberation tigers of Tamil Eelam. This registers the highest concentration of Internally Displaced Persons in Batticaloa district.
Phase 1, and Phase 2 have been completed and people have been resettled in their villages. The phase 3 has begun on June 15th
There are 54 families-310 persons living in Shakthi welfare camp in Araiyampathy , Batticaloa district. They have been living under the control of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (Tamil Tigers) for more than a decade in Kokkattichcholai, Unnchchai, and Paavatkodichchenai.
They were to be resettled in their villages from June 1st onwards. They were afraid to go back fearing for their own safety.
“I am too afraid to return to my village. If everybody goes I will go” said Palaththai Kumaraguru (45) of Unnichchai.
The Internally Displaced People areliving in cramped cadjan huts.
Toilets, tube wells and wells are common in the welfare camps.
The eductaion of the children is continuously disrupted.
“My family is pushed to poverty due to displacement. My husband is a farmer, and he has no work now.I find it very difficult to feed my family. I save food for my children and husband, I sleep without eating. Sometimes I multiply the rice I cooked in the morning with water and serve my family” said Pathmasunthari Pilimasingam (36) of Kokkattichcholai.
It’s getting hotter and it’s unbearable to stay in the huts.
They share the space and stuffs with others.
The Internally Diplaced People feel that they are neglected.
The welfare camps are isolated.
The makeshift shelters were turned into temporary cadjan huts due to hot weather.
Severe hardships are faced in the camps.