02/06/2012, 00.00
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Jaffna: IDPs since 1990, the government forgets thousands of people

by Melani Manel Perera
100 families living in the Udduppidi refugee camp, 52 in that of Sinnaweli. For a year the government considers these people "resettled" and does not send more flour, rice, lentils, coconut oil and sugar. Displaced people: "Without dignity, we want to be citizens of our country."
Jaffna (AsiaNews) - "War and expropriations have robbed us of our dignity as human beings. When will we be citizens in our country?”, ask for hundreds of families, originally from the Jaffna peninsula and other areas of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. Since 1990 they have been living in camps for IDPs (Internally Displaced People, IDPs). Among these, thousands of people from the Pallali area (city of Jaffna peninsula) whom the government have moved to Sinnaweli refugee camp and camp J-354 of Udduppidi. From owners of houses and land, to refugees who no longer have a job, or aid from the government because "the war is over." So, while Sri Lanka celebrates the 64th anniversary of independence the families of these fields have gone without food for nearly a year.

The Udduppidi J-354 camp is located on private land belonging to a Tamil living abroad. 100 families live here, five of whom are "led" by women widowed during the war. "We had a good life - some of them tell AsiaNews - we were farmers and our lands gave us everything necessary for our survival. However, since then we have been leading miserable lives. We have nothing. "

Over the past six months, their living conditions have gotten even worse, since the government suspended distribution of food aid. "The authorities – the women explain - want to show the world that there are no more refugees in the camps. So, we do not receive any more rice, lentils, flour, sugar or coconut oil. But because we no longer have a job it makes matters worse". Added to this, point out some men, "is another problem: not being able to prove that we are owners of land or a house, the bank will not grant any type of loan. Thus, we can not start work. And the 300-400 rupees [approximately 2 Euros] that we can earn in a day, not enough to the meet the needs of a family. "

The IDPs in Sinnaweli camp are living in similar conditions. There are 52 families of fishermen, for a total of 250 people, also from Palali. Most of them are Catholic, the rest are Hindus. The camp is located in Wadamarachchi, near the beach, and every year during the rainy season, people are forced to move because of flooding. There are 40 young people who have studied up to graduation, but having failed to find jobs to help their fathers fishing. "An activity - some explain – that is no longer sufficient for the minimum family subsistence."

The government has suspended food aid to this area for over a year. Moreover, the authorities have classified these families as "resettled", not as "to be resettled." The people of Sinnaweli ask: "What sense does it make? Why is the government playing with our lives? We are not beggars. We have properties, lands, houses, a few kilometers from here. What has happened? We have tried to discuss this with local officials, but without any success. We want to go Palali. Our lives are there. "

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