Govt. ready to welcome IDPs

By Leon Berenger

The Government has drawn up extensive contingency plans ahead of an anticipated large influx of internally displaced people from the conflict zone in the Wanni following the re-capture of Kilinochchi on Friday.

As the security forces were poised for an all-out offensive on the remaining un-cleared areas in the Wanni, Essential Services Commissioner S.B. Divaratne said yesterday they were expecting a large number of IDPs to enter the northern town of Vavuniya at any time.

“We are ready to face the situation, and plans have been drawn up to provide food, shelter and other facilities that were not available to them in the LTTE- controlled areas,” he said. Mr. Divaratne said officials would, if necessary, seek the cooperation of UN aid agencies and INGOs in providing relief but the Government was fully prepared to deal with the situation.

He said there was room in the Vavuniya region to accommodate more than 200,000 displaced people and assured them they would have nothing to fear in the Government-controlled areas. The commissioner said the INGOs and NGOs which had a mandate to operate in Vavuniya would be welcome to assist the refugee crisis, and the government for its part would extend the fullest cooperation. So far some 900 IDPs had moved into Vavuniya from the Wanni since November 21 last year, Resettlement Ministry Secretary A. C.M. Razik said. They include 378 families consisting of 537 males and 371 females, he said.

They were housed at Menik Farm and Nelukkulam and were being provided with cooked meals and other basic facilities and the state had already spent some Rs. 25 million towards their welfare, he said. The latest group of 41 displaced people arrived in Vavuniya on Friday after the security forces moved into Kilinochchi. Meanwhile, Mullaitivu Divisional Secretariat officials said there were some 221,000 IDPs registered in the area.

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