Sunday, August 23, 2009

Plan to resettle IDPs in the midst of Army and Sinhala settlements - 'Ravaya'

A source close to the President said that the release of IDPs has been postponed indefinitely with the government focusing on a plan to resettle them along with the new Sinhala and military settlements that are to be set up in the north.

The source further noted that the plan is to resettle people in areas in Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, below Mannar and above Vavuniya , where there are currently no people. The plan is said to remove all the old Tamil villages that existed in the respective areas. Although thousands of displaced persons currently living in camps even after completing the security checks, they cannot be released due to the government's new plan.

According to the Defence Ministry and the Defence Secretary, 10,000 of the 300,000 people living in the displaced camps have been identified to have links with the LTTE. They are currently living in separate camps located within the main IDP camp in Vavuniya.

While former child soldiers of the LTTE are being rehabilitated at the Ambepussa camp, several other LTTE members are held at the Boossa camp.

Half of the government stipulated period of 180 days to resettle the displaced persons has lapsed. The government in order to receive aid from India and other countries said it would resettle the displaced within 180 days.

It is reported that elements opposed to the devolution of power within the government had proposed the above mentioned plan while the others who are supportive of power devolution have objected to it.

Meanwhile, Disaster Management and Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe told parliament on the 19th that the displaced would be resettled by December 31st.

© Ravaya

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

A group of Catholic clergy protest over celebrating Madhu festival

A group of Catholic clergy has protested over celebrating Madhu festival while hundreds of thousands of people are locked in the camps, a senior clergyman said.

The assumption of Virgin Mary was celebrated on 15 August at Madhu shrine in Vavuniya.

However, Fr. Victor Soosai, Vicar General of diocese of Mannar said that up to 10 priests stayed away from the celebration to express solidarity with displaced Tamil people, and priests, in camps.

“On the one side, after very long time, people are allowed to go to Madhu and they were able to worship,” he told BBC Sinhala service, Sandeshaya.

Nearly 300,000 IDPs (internally displaced people) are housed in temporary camps in Vavuniya.

Priests detained

“On the other side, people are sad in the sense, all the adjoining villages are in the IDP camps. They were asking how we can celebrate peace without people in the surrounding area,” he said.

Fr. Soosai said a group of priests stayed either with the parish members or visited the IDP camps while nearly 35 others attended the Madhu feast.

Bishop of Mannar Rayappu Joseph did not protest but was absent due to ill health, according to Fr. Soosai.

The senior clergyman revealed that six Catholic priests and three nuns are also being detained in the IDP camps by the authorities.

He added that almost all priests, those attended and those who were absent, agreed with the call by Jaffna Bishop Thomas Saundranayagam for the speed release of the IDPs.

“That is the wish of all the priests,” he said.


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