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Government Gazette

Taking care of IDPs: Progress so far

Question: The Government has successfully completed the North-East Humanitarian Operation and thereby ending the war between the LTTE and Sri Lankan Government forces which lasted approximately twenty-five years. What are the measures intended to be taken up by the Government to satisfy the needs of the IDP community who have come into Government control areas after being liberated from the LTTE?

The people who have been displaced due to the recently concluded North-East Humanitarian Operation are being provided with necessary shelter, medical and other facilities by the Sri Lankan Government. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has appointed a special committee to look into the urgent needs of these IDPs and find out the necessary solutions. Sabaragamuwa Chief Minister Maheepala Herath is also a member of this important committee. Following are excerpts from an interview with Chief Minister Herath:

Maheepala Herath

Answer: I We now have a great leader, President Mahinda Rajapaksa who made historic decisions and is a truthful leader we never have had before. We are grateful for him for wiping out the LTTE menace from Sri Lanka forever. The Tamil people battered for nearly 30 years under the rule and gun culture of LTTE are now free under the Sri Lankan Government and got freedom within a very short period of time of three and half years since the commencement of the humanitarian operation at Mavil-Aru.

With the supervision of Presidential Advisor and Parliamentarian Basil Rajapaksa under the guidance of President Mahinda Rajapaksa thousands of IDPs are provided with sheltering facilities at Manik Farm area in Settikulam. It is a challenging task for the Sri Lankan Government to address the immediate issues such as shelter, food, clothing for approximately 180,000 displaced people.

At the same time it is a complex problem to rehabilitate some of the young people misguided by the LTTE and Prabhakaran. However, we have so far, successfully resolved many issues.

The providing of infrastructure facilities such as provision of roads, electricity and water was done in a short period of time and supplies of daily needs for IDPs such as dry rations, cooked meals at the Manik Farm camp are in progress. Only persons who have visited these areas can see the results and ascertain as to how these challenges have been met with.

The manner in which the humanitarian operation was carried out without causing much hardship by the Sri Lankan Government to the civilians caught up in the fighting with LTTE is an example to the rest of the world.

In the world history of wars I do not think one can come across a situation where a humanitarian operation was carried out by providing food, medicine and shelter to the people caught in the fighting by the Government while fighting with the enemy in the same vicinity. The LTTE used the IDPs as a “Human Shield” for their protection. However, the Government looked after the civilians to the entertainment of the international community.

Question: Some of the IDPs living in the camps have told the international representatives and journalists that they are not satisfied with the facilities provided to them at the camps. What can you say about these statements?

Answer: Among the displaced people there may be some people who support the LTTE. Their lives may have been saved due to the dedication of our war heroes.

They should be grateful to President Mahinda Rajapaksa and our war heroes. Yet, we have to take necessary action and efforts to change the minds of these people. I too saw at these camps a few of those people who did not appreciate the kindness and help extended to them by the Government security personnel. When foreign representatives from various Governments and organisations went there to meet them, they might have told certain things without paying much attention to the help given to them by the Government.

When the foreign delegation comprising the United Nations High Commissioner for Emergency Relief and Humanitarian Affairs, Sir John Holmes visited the Manik Farm camp, we extended the fullest support and allowed them to observe the situation there. We wanted to show them and whole world that even to the most fearful enemy, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has no hatred. The LTTE sympathizers stated a few grievances encountered by them to Sir John Holmes.

We decided to convey to the world through Sir John Holmes that the Government has taken the challenge in providing the necessary facilities to the displaced people in a successful and commendable manner.

The way the things proceeded under the leadership of the President during and after the war is an example to the entire world. No one should be concerned over the cowardly statements made by some individuals still sympathizing with LTTE among displaced people.

Question: We can remember that during the Vadamarachchi operation when the LTTE was at the verge of being defeated, India intervened citing a humanitarian issue and LTTE survived. During this operation also the international community pressed for a ceasefire between government and LTTE. Isn’t it?

Answer: Here the friendship between India and Sri Lanka is of paramount importance. The President has kept India informed of the devastation caused by the LTTE. During Vadamarachchi, the then leaders were spineless to protect the dignity of Sri Lankans. The President openly expressed his honest principles with regard to this issue at a recent United Nations summit meeting. He requested the unity of all nations to eradicate terrorism from Sri Lanka and fight the war against terrorism. The President stated that he received the mandate from the people not to give into the terror of a blood thirsty, fascist terror organisation. President Mahinda Rajapaksa did not put his head down, though Prabakaran was the world’s number one terrorist who was able to scare the previous leaders of Sri Lanka during the past 30 years.

Selling weapons and arms to terrorists to earn huge sums of money was the dream business of some of the prominent world arms dealers by misleading the leaders of small nations like us. Now their dreams have been shattered and they are losing their income.

The Indian Prime Minister saw the vision of our President. He has now come forward and decided to extend India’s fullest co-operation to develop this country.

Although we got the independence sixty years ago, the international community was still able to interfere with our affairs and make influences due to weaknesses of some of our leaders.

The LTTE made full use of these influences and was able to destroy the unity among different communities in the country and cause obstacles to the development of this country. Now, even those countries have realised such influences are not tolerated by the present President of Sri Lanka.

Question: What are the arrangements made by the Government to provide relief to the people rescued during this humanitarian operation?

Answer: The plans drawn up by us are being implemented now and become a practical reality. Presidential Advisor, Basil Rajapaksa, MP and is fully in charge of these development works under the maximum guidance of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The roads are being reconstructed under the first phase of the project Uthuru Wasanthaya. Electricity schemes are also in progress.

Arrangements are being made to provide permanent houses for the IDPs and resettle them early. Those in the South can see the results soon. I can say in a responsible manner that people belonging to all communities had a sigh of relief when they saw the death of Prabhakaran on May 19, 2009. This is a golden era for all citizens of Sri Lanka and the three Rajapaksa brothers Mahinda, Gotabhaya and Basil were the saviors for us in this new era.

President Rajapaksa revived the armed forces and even donated one of his sons to fight in the battle front.

It was the second such heroic occasion after former United States President Abraham Lincoln. Similarly, there is no doubt that President would succeed in developing the necessary infrastructure facilities in the North which also enrich the people in South with opportunities for income growth. It would be necessary to commence State institutions in the North and recruit new staff. New avenues will be opened for business and industries as well. As a result a better future is promised for whole Sri Lanka.

The IDPs possess nothing at present. It is necessary to give a new life to them and it is a daunting task for the Government and maximum dedication would be requied from the Government. The educated masses have a major role to play in this regard.

Question: How are the health facilities provided to the IDPs?

Answer: Under the direction of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Health authorities have taken immediate steps with utmost dedication to provide necessary health facilities to displaced people in the refugee camps. Four zones have been established and approximately one hundred doctors are working under the supervision and guidance of experienced consultants round the clock. In addition there are seventy French doctors to provide treatments to the IDPs. No health problems have been encountered in these camps.

Further, the ICRC and UNICEF also have commenced relief operations in the health sector for IDPs. I can certify that there are no health problems within the IDP camps. The required medicine and drugs are provided by Government through the Health Ministry. The people in the South are always prepared to help these people rescued from jaws of LTTE terrorism. We saw how our people provided cooked meals, dry rations, milk food, biscuits, medicine in large quantities to these people. The displaced people are now relieved to a greater extent.

Under Prabhakaran’s rule these people did not even have basic health needs. Some are still remembering the sound of firing guns and are in a shocked state of mind. They have expressed their gratitude to the President for saving them from certain death.

Question: The President’s ultimate goal is to create a prosperous, glorious and sovereign Sri Lanka under one flag with one Government. What is the commitment of political parties towards this idea?

Answer: The people in this country know about the political party and its politicians who helped LTTE terrorism and tried to give oxygen even at last moment. I do not have to specifically mention about them. They also know, how they betrayed and the how guilty they feel about it. But, all who respect democratic rights of people would soon join hands with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Basil Rajapaksa.

Question: How do you meet challenges in providing educational needs of IDPs?

Answer: It is a priority of President Rajapaksa. He said he would take the responsibility about childrens welfare. He said motherland is his first, second and third priorities. He is the father of Sri Lanka. It is an easy task for him to find the solutions for this aspect. He has already taken initial steps with the Education Minister, Susil Premajayanth and planned out the procedures. Necessary infrastructure facilities such as school buildings are being constructed and human resource requirements are being addressed.

Question: In order to develop the North and East, large investments are required. The Government alone cannot handle these investments. What will be the response from the international community in this context?

Answer:Foreign countries are extending their cooperation to President Rajapaksa in providing necessary assistance. The Asian Development Bank, World Bank and International Monitory Fund have come forward to help us. Soon we would be able to see the assistance given by them for massive development projects.


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