05/25/2011, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Sri Lanka refugees, still war victims after more than ten years

by Melani Manel Perera
Despite their resettlement in 2005, Villankulam residents complain about the lack of basic necessities. Their houses have no power, roofs and windows, and their bathrooms have no doors. For the authorities, they are “illegal residents” and their calls for help go unheeded. Despite the difficulties, Tamil, Sinhalese, Muslim and Christian families live in peace and harmony.
Trincomalee (AsiaNews) – Residents of the village of Villankullam (Trincomalee district, eastern coast of Sri Lanka) have been war victims since 1990. Their homes have no roof or windows, their floors are in sand; they have no electricity and their fields cannot be farmed. They are almost without any basic resources. Since 2005, they have had the government to thank for their situation.

Affected by the second phase of the civil war, residents were forced to leave their homes in 1990. They were allowed back in 2005 but they complain that the authorities have not helped them since then, despite the government’s Eastern Province Re-awakening Programme (Negenahira Nawodaya)

The village of Villankullam is home to 34 Tamil families, 22 Sinhalese, 6 Christian and 3 Muslim, all living in peace and harmony, without religious discrimination.

However, government officials have mistreated residents, doing nothing to help them develop their village or ensure justice after years of war.

Before the war, the village had rich farmland that allowed locals to earn a decent leaving from poultry and animal husbandry. Without government help, they lack the means to revive local plantations and farming.

At the time of resettlement, the Rotary International Organizations built 85 houses. At present, only 59 are occupied. In some of the others, goats and chickens have found shelter. Those under human occupation are mostly unsafe, if not outright dangerous.

“There are no roofs and windows, bathrooms have no doors. Even though there are walls, the houses are dangerous and the village has a lot of little children,” some of the women said.

Residents also complain about attacks from wild animals like snakes and elephants.

The authorities appear to have forgotten the village. Neither the village officer (Grama Sevaka), nor the district secretary are willing to listen to local pleas for help and demands for services.

“When we ask for help, we are told that we are illegal residents,” Nimal Wijerathna, a local labourer, said.

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