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    » 07/13/2012, 00.00

    SRI LANKA

    British high commissioner to help Mullikulam refugees

    Melani Manel Perera

    John Rankin met 200 Catholic Tamil refugees force d to live in a jungle with nothing. They had been drive out of their village more than 20 years ago during the civil war. The high commissioner plans to discuss their plight with the Sri Lanka government.

    Mannar (AsiaNews) - Conditions for refugees in Mullikulam are "harsh and painful". After being expelled from their village 20 years ago, they find themselves stuck in a jungle, John Rankin, British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka said about the 200 Tamil. Yesterday, Rankin met the refuges, all 148 families, promising them that he would discuss their plight with other ambassadors and the country's government. Fr Raajanayagam, two other priests, a nun and two officials from the National Fisheries Solidarity (NAFSO) were present at the meeting.

    The story of these families who became internally displaced people because of 30 years of civil war is a tragic one. Forced to leave the village of Mullikulam for the first time in 1990, residents were never able to go back; instead, they were split among various refugee camps.

    In 2012, three years after the end of the civil war, they should have benefited from the government's resettlement plan. Instead, they were sent to Marichchikattu jungle with noting to start a new life: no homes, tools, tends, fishing equipment, etc.

    "The problem is that all our papers are in order," people told the high commissioner. "The authorities however do not allow us go back in Mullikulam. There, we lived from fishing and farming. Here we have nothing and depend on other people's charity."

    "I do not know," Fr Raajanayagam told AsiaNews, "how long these people can continue living in such a situation. Among all of them, they have two bathrooms. Drinking water is rationed by the Navy. They have to go to the nearby lake to wash themselves"

    For the refugees, the reasons they cannot go home lies with the Navy, which is using their homes and properties.

    "What did we do wrong?" asked some. "Once we hand land and could earn a living for our families. Now, we live under the trees like beggars."

     

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    See also

    14/12/2009 SRI LANKA
    Young Tamils and Sinhalese meet for peace and reconciliation
    After decades of separation caused by war, teenagers from the two groups meet to share hopes in a programme for mutual acceptance and sharing.

    15/09/2009 SRI LANKA
    Tamil refugees going home to an open prison
    In villages in Mannar district, the government’s ‘Northern Reawakening’ programme has not brought promised changes. Homes are still broken; services are non-existent, and freedom of movement still limited by heavy military presence.

    18/05/2009 INDIA – SRI LANKA
    Sri Lankan Tamil refugees do not trust India’s Congress party
    Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Singh do not want to get involved in Sri Lankan affairs. Religious working in relief centres in Tamil Nadu says the real problem is that refugees in India live in the country as foreigners and do not integrate into society.

    14/09/2009 SRI LANKA
    Sisters aid elderly Tamil refugees destroyed by war
    At Vankalai in Mannar district, there is a shelter that houses 26 elderly people. It is one of three Elders Home supported by the diocese of the city in the north. Sr Kanagasabai., centre director: "They are in the bitter position of receiving care and attention while their children and relatives are suffering in the camps."

    23/04/2009 SRI LANKA
    Dead or alive, Tamil Tiger leader’s fate sealed
    Sri Lanka’s army says it knows where LTTE leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, is in hiding. Sri Lankans wonder about Tiger leader’s future with most hoping he gets killed. Political analyst Sarath Fernando says rebels must surrender but Tamil must continue the struggle for their rights.



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