Armed clashes between the security forces and the LTTE since cutting off water supply at Mavil Aru in the Eastern Province by the latter, in July 2006, resulted in large scale displacement of civilian population.

Since the eviction of the LTTE armed cadres from the East in January 2007, and particularly after the capture of their last holdout at “Thoppigala” in July, the government is now better placed to address the issue of resettlement.

The Ministry of Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services has recently released the latest figures of resettlement activities undertaken in the Batticaloa and Trincomalee Districts in the East. As of July 16th, around 13,389 families consisting of 50,255 persons have been resettled in Trincomalee, while 30,228 families consisting of 98,059 persons have been resettled in Batticaloa District. There are around 7652 families in Trincomalee District and 14,047 families in Baticaloa, who are yet to be resettled comprising 30,100 and 73, 636 persons respectively. The main reasons attributed to the backlog are the presence of landmines in the conflict affected areas and the creation of a High Security Zone in Trincomalee.

Government agencies provide relief supplies to the returnees to Vellaveli, Pattipalai and Vavunathivu Divisions in the Batticaloa District. Immediate needs of these returnees have been assessed and an Emergency Assistance Program is currently under preparation. Since the Vaharai (South of Trincomalee) resettlement commenced four months ago, several government agencies, UN agencies and INGOs have been providing food and non food relief items.

Mine clearing activities are in progress in certain parts of Trincomalee. The Government is planning to implement a comprehensive mine action programme with a target of making the country mine free by the end of December 2008. At present seven International Non Governmental Organizations, a local NGO and the Sri Lanka Army are engaged in clearing mines in the North and the East. Assessment of the damaged houses has been completed in Mutur

Addressing a mass gathering on July 19, President Mahinda Rajapaksa unveiled a programme of reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Eastern Province and promised democratic elections there by the end of the year.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

20 July 2007


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