Why resettlement of Sri Lanka's displaced should not be rushed

A skull and crossbones sign warns of landmines in a field that acts as an exhibit at a museum built for tourists. Cambodia. Photo: © Masaru Goto / World Bank (via Flickr under the Creative Commons license)

I have a question for those who carry criticism of Sri Lanka's camps for the displaced, and for those who call for the immediate resettlement of these civilians.

Have you thought it through?

Where are these people going to go? Over the last two years the Wanni region was transformed into a war zone. The Tigers destroyed civilian infrastructure in their retreat.

The conditions in their former homes will be no different.

30 years on from the Vietnam war kids are still losing limbs. The Americans fled leaving behind thousands of landmines and unexploded shells which to this day continue to claim lives.

Christy Richards writes about the reasons why the resettlement should not be hurried. Below is a few excerpts.

The primary immediate factors are the return of the Wanni families to their homes, farms and the activities of the community as early as possible. In this the major hazardous obstacle will be landmines, a horrendous nightmare reality that has to be faced and deactivated.

The resettlement under no circumstances should be hurried and in this, the responsibility to make Wanni free of landmines lies with the government; and Sri Lanka needs a great deal of help to clear landmines. Apart from the countries that may come forward to help, overseas church agencies should canvas support for this activity from their respective governments as a matter of urgency. Also apart from the local non-governmental organization, the overseas missions that founded the various churches in Sri Lanka like the American, Anglican, Methodist, Dutch Reformed and the Baptist have an important role to play in this respect.

For those who question the need for such camps. I urge you to read the following. Pay close attention to the fact that all senior Taliban leaders have fled the Swat valley.

Over 2.5 Million Pakistanis are displaced, but the Taliban have fled to carry out attacks in other areas of Pakistan. The entire offensive by the Pakistani government has been rendered useless.

The logic is simple and the camps were a requirement.

Meanwhile, the UN has said access to the camps has improved.

Times of India
United Nations humanitarian wing has said that access to camps in Vavuniya housing thousands of civilians displaced by the recently ended conflict in Sri Lanka has improved, though some delays are still being experienced.

In addition, work on an additional camp in the area has begun, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said, adding that workers are clearing more areas for future camps.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters Thursday that the Sri Lankan Government has addressed some concerns he raised during his recent visit to the country over humanitarian access to the camps.

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