"I can’t let this become like Baghdad," says Sri Lankan President Rajapakse.

The New York Times has published an article on the situation of the displaced in Sri Lanka.

In it, Sri Lanka's President, Mahinda Rajapakse says that he has instructed his administration that he wants 80% of the displaced to be returned to their homes by the end of 2009.

The New York Times says that goal would be hard to meet, citing government officials who claimed some areas were just too heavily mined, and de-mining would take longer.

Rajapakse also told the New York Times that security is a major concern. He said that Tiger combatants were still taking refuge amongst the displaced.

The screening process is crucial if Sri Lanka is to maintain law and order once the displaced return to their villages. Let's not forget that there are battle hardened fighters amongst the displaced.

“The citizen’s security is No. 1,” Rajapakse said. “You must remember that we have just defeated the most ruthless terrorist group. We are very careful. I can’t let this become like Baghdad,” he added.

NYT also managed to speak with a diplomat and an aid official. Both chose to remain anonymous. Their views backs what Amjad Mohamed-Saleem, the country director of Muslim Aid in Sri Lanka, said in his recent remarks.

“Perversely, if we keep helping we become the jailer of these people,” said the unnamed diplomat to the New York Times.


UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe.

The government and foreign aid groups, including NGOs and diplomats, are currently at a standoff.

Aid groups refuse to improve sanitary conditions in camps for the displaced because they feel any permanent toilet structure would encourage the government to keep these people detained for longer.

This tug of war between the groups has meant the displaced Tamils are suffering even more.

What is the role of an aid agency/charity in Sri Lanka? Is it to pressure the government into what they consider is right? Or is it to provide immediate assistance for those in need?


An internally displaced person receives medical treatment at a health clinic in the Manik Farm Camp. 23/May/2009. Vavunyia, Sri Lanka. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe.

Some feel they need to strike a fine balance. In fact, any such notion would be counter productive towards the goals of any charity or aid group.

When an aid group turns into a political tool, the cause becomes less of a priority.

Sri Lanka should not rush into anything, nor should it be rushed.

We see how conflicts around the world have taken a drastic turn for the worse after the defeat of one warring party. Iraq and Afghanistan are good examples.

Although most of us don't research into Iraq's daily news, suicide bombs are a daily occurrence. The death of the innocent continues at a startling rate, and on a daily basis.

If Sri Lanka was to return the displaced to their originally villages today, the repercussion may well be seen for years to come.


Land mines continue to claim limbs and lives even years after the end of a conflict. MAPA Demining Engineer Clears Land-mine. UN Photo/UNMACA.

Picture 10 July 2020: Thousands of children have lost limbs over the last 10 years due to land mines and UXOs. Tiger cadres who escaped the camps managed to regroup, unearth buried weapons dumps, and take Sri Lanka back into civil war.

I wonder where the diplomat and the aid official will be 10 years from now. Surely not in a war torn - hell hole called Sri Lanka.

Thanks but no thanks. If we care genuinely for long lasting peace. Sacrifices must be made, and rush we must not.

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