Some then head for Australia by boat via the Negombo coast, or leave the country with false travel documents.
Members of paramilitary groups are carrying on a lucrative trade smuggling out Internally Displaced People (IDPs) from camps for large sums of money, an investigation by the Sunday Times revealed.The Sunday Times cannot be accused of being biased, or be accused of trying to tarnish the image of Sri Lanka. Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. have proven to be as patriotic as any on this island, through decades of unbiased journalism.
The rate for release of a person in Vavuniya stands at Rs 100,000 whilst those “delivered” to Colombo or the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) is Rs 500,000 now, our Insight Team found. This is because the demand had tapered off. Earlier, charges stood at Rs 200,000 and Rs 700,000.
Agents who are working as frontmen, putting through deals for securing the release of IDPs, are operating from guesthouses and homes in Vavuniya. Next of kin, some from abroad, who arrive in the town by train have filled these guesthouses and lodges. They register with the Police and make a beeline to discuss terms and conclude deals.
The entire process is falling apart. Sri Lanka doesn't need 180 days to screen for Tigers when the Tigers are slipping out. Those who have nowhere to go, and those who have no relatives living overseas, the real refugees, are those who end up languishing in these camps for no obvious reason.
Anyone who can afford $1000-$7000 to slip out of the camps and then the country, are very well connected. If the Tigers indeed wanted to regroup, which is what Sri Lanka fears the most, they would then invest any amount of money to have their remaining battle hardened cadres smuggled out of these camps.
These camps have existed for over five months. I have no doubt that many have been smuggled out. Why then do we continue to confine these people? I do understand that de-mining needs to be completed, but there has to be some degree of freedom allowed because the confinement has clearly failed.
Resettlement Minister Rishard Bathiuddeen told The Sunday Times that he knew people were leaving, but didn't know how. Well now you do!