08/04/2011, 00.00
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Young Muslims ask for help after the war

by Melani Manel Perera
The government’s ‘Reawakening Development programme’ has failed to consider the needs of war victims in Ampara District, in the eastern part of the country. Many young people are unable to study because of poverty and logistical problems.
Ampara (AsiaNews) – Young Muslims in the village Aalamkulam (Ampara District, Eastern Province) lack access to adequate health care, higher education and public transit. What they do have access to are limited job prospects, widespread poverty and rampant corruption. Despite the Eastern Province Reawakening Development programme, residents in Ampara (the most affected by the ethnic conflict) have been neglected. “Except for a few cows, the government has not given us anything,” locals say.

The village is home to 276 Muslim families, with many children and teenagers. “Many of us would like to study but the village school stops at Ordinary Level Examination (age of 14),” the latter said. “If we wanted to continue there is a town school 15 kilometres from here. But who will pay for our studies, or lodging?”

In fact, local families are very poor. Few have jobs. Some eke out a living selling fish or doing odd jobs for about 600 rupees a day ((US$ 6).

The same applies to health care. A doctor visits the village three times a week. In case of emergencies, locals must travel to the nearest hospital, which is 17 kilometres away.

For the National Fisheries Solidarity Organisation (NASFO), which collects data on internally displaced people, villagers should set up their own ‘Citizen Committee'  to address their problems.

“Through such bodies, families can put pressure on the authorities to meet their needs,” NAFSO coordinator Priyankara Costa said.
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