11/03/2016, 17.36
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Jaffna: President Sirisena hands over 100 new homes to people displaced by civil war for 20 years

by Melani Manel Perera

Houses in the 47-acre settlement in Keeramalai measure 50 m2 each. The initiative stems from a visit by the president shortly after his election.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – The President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena handed over a hundred new houses to internally displaced people (IDPs) living in camps in the north of the island nation.

"We can finally live in peace. We can thank our president for this settlement" some of the beneficiaries told AsiaNews.

The houses were built in record time (four months) in Keeramalai, on the Jaffna peninsula as a result of a visit the president made shortly after his election to the Konartpulam IDP camp im Telippali, ​​Kankasenthurai.

This initiative is not the first of its kind. The president has already returned land to its rightful Tamil owners who had had it expropriated during the three decades of civil war.

When he met some of the IDPS, he was shocked that some were still living in tents after more than 20 years.

After that meeting, Sirisena ordered the Ministry of Defence to build the houses and close the refugee camp as soon as possible.

Various regiments worked day and night to deliver the houses, each measuring 50 m2 with two bedrooms, a living room, a dining room with kitchen, and a bathroom.

Inaugurated on 31 October in a solemn ceremony, the houses were built by the army, but also by former Tamil Tiger rebels and the beneficiaries themselves.

When the keys were handed over to new residents, they could not hide their emotion.

One of them, Rasamani Sivaneshwaram, 46, spent half his life in tents. "We are grateful to the president,” he said. “This means a lot to me and my family. We have the security of a home in which to sleep."

The Keeramalai Housing Project covers an area of ​​47 acres, near the Palaly army cantonment area. It also has a community centre, a fish market, a police station, a playground and a nursery.

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