|Sri Lanka IDPs
Five years after the war, Sri Lanka’s level of internal displacement is estimated to be around 90,000 persons, according to the Annual Global Review of the Norway based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). Based on data gathered from January to December 2013, the IDMC’s latest assessment has recorded up to 90,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Sri Lanka by end 2013.
It also records that over 480,000 IDPs have returned to the Northern and Eastern Provinces – after the war end– though specific measures were considered necessary to facilitate the returnees.
The report released on 14 May, further records that the State occupation of land prevented the return of at least 30,000 IDPs living in protracted displacement during the assessment year (2013). It noted that out… …of the 30,000; about 20,000 IDPS lived with host communities, another 7,000 in camps while the rest have been relocated, not always voluntarily.
The report adds that tens of thousands of Muslims expelled from the North by the LTTE in 1990 have registered as having returned, though in reality, most of them were still living in their places of refuge in Puttalam or alternating between Puttalam and the North, largely for the want of adequate assistance.
With regard to policy, IDMC noted the absence of comprehensive legislation on IDPs in Sri Lanka and identified the need to have a 2013 draft policy by the Resettlement Ministry revised, in order to bring it in line with international standards.
It also identified the need for long-term funding to rebuild IDPs’ lives, which has suffered also due to the shifting of focus by international organizations from humanitarian to development work.
IDMC has also acknowledged positive developments in South and South-East Asia in dealing with internal displacement. Recording a 50% decline, the report noted at least 3.2 million people were still displaced in the region and that they were concentrated in seven countries – Pakistan, Myanmar, Afghanistan, India, Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.
IDMC has monitored internal displacement since 1998 and its Annual Global Overview covers people internally displaced by international and internal armed conflict, generalized violence – communal, ethnic, political and criminal violence and human rights violations
By Dilrukshi Handunnetti