HALO facilitates the return of almost 300 families in Sri Lanka

HALO facilitates the return of almost 300 families after 25 years of displacement

In 1990 the Sri Lankan Army captured the land around the Jaffna harbour and Palaly Airport and established a High Security Zone (HSZ) to protect the important strategic points within. Consequently the residents of these communities were forced to leave and the community was scattered; some have been living in welfare camps, others with friends and relatives, some spent much of their income renting a house elsewhere, and those that were able to move abroad. Since 2010 the army has gradually released portions of the HSZ, enabling people to resettle, but many families have had to wait.

The newly-elected President, Mathripala Sirisena, has placed particular emphasis on resettlement of long-term IDPs as part of his ‘100 day plan’. The government aims to return 1,000 acres of the 6,000-acre HSZ to displaced communities. One area within the HSZ recently released by the government was Valalai, GN, but before anyone could return to these 200 acres the land had to be confirmed as safe. On the urgent request of the Jaffna Government Agent and the Ministry for Resettlement, HALO deployed a survey team to Valalai.

HALO completed the survey on March 10th 2015, with the team finding no evidence of mines, so the area was declared safe for resettlement to take place. Without this survey such resettlement could not happen and countless families would remain displaced from their homes. When the Sri Lankan government previously released areas of the HSZ HALO’s survey and clearance of mines was key in not only ensuring that displaced families could return, but meant other agencies could assist locals in reclaiming their village and rebuilding their community.

Such was the demand for resettlement in Valalai the opening ceremony was held just three days after the completion of the survey and 283 families arrived to register and reclaim their land. With the authorities suspecting that more people will come forward to register over the coming weeks, HALO’s survey will have a lasting impact.

While the resettlement process continues in Valalai, HALO continues to survey other released areas of HSZ. HALO anticipates to complete this survey in the coming weeks. Any new minefields identified during survey will be prioritized for immediate mine clearance to assist with the resettlement.

HALO facilitates the return of almost 300 families after 25 years of displacement

In 1990 the Sri Lankan Army captured the land around the Jaffna harbour and Palaly Airport and established a High Security Zone (HSZ) to protect the important strategic points within. Consequently the residents of these communities were forced to leave and the community was scattered; some have been living in welfare camps, others with friends and relatives, some spent much of their income renting a house elsewhere, and those that were able to move abroad. Since 2010 the army has gradually released portions of the HSZ, enabling people to resettle, but many families have had to wait.

The newly-elected President, Mathripala Sirisena, has placed particular emphasis on resettlement of long-term IDPs as part of his ‘100 day plan’. The government aims to return 1,000 acres of the 6,000-acre HSZ to displaced communities. One area within the HSZ recently released by the government was Valalai, GN, but before anyone could return to these 200 acres the land had to be confirmed as safe. On the urgent request of the Jaffna Government Agent and the Ministry for Resettlement, HALO deployed a survey team to Valalai. 

HALO completed the survey on March 10th 2015, with the team finding no evidence of mines, so the area was declared safe for resettlement to take place. Without this survey such resettlement could not happen and countless families would remain displaced from their homes. When the Sri Lankan government previously released areas of the HSZ HALO’s survey and clearance of mines was key in not only ensuring that displaced families could return, but meant other agencies could assist locals in reclaiming their village and rebuilding their community.

Such was the demand for resettlement in Valalai the opening ceremony was held just three days after the completion of the survey and 283 families arrived to register and reclaim their land. With the authorities suspecting that more people will come forward to register over the coming weeks, HALO’s survey will have a lasting impact. 

While the resettlement process continues in Valalai, HALO continues to survey other released areas of HSZ. HALO anticipates to complete this survey in the coming weeks. Any new minefields identified during survey will be prioritized for immediate mine clearance to assist with the resettlement.

- See more at: http://www.halotrust.org/media-centre/news-press-releases/halo-facilitates-return-almost-300-families#sthash.KcANsj5y.dpuf

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