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?
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:
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
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
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
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
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