Displaced can return to Sillavatturai and Arippu soon – Maj. Gen. Jayasuriya
More than a thousand families displaced from the villages of Mullikulam, Sillavaturai and Arippu when these areas were recaptured by the security forces early last month would be allowed to return to their homes before the end of this year, Wanni Security Forces Commander Maj. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya said last night.
He told The Sunday Times that they had worked out a time frame for the return of the IDPs at a meeting held at the Defence Ministry on Tuesday. The meeting had been attended by Minister of Resettlement Rishad Bathiudeen, newly sworn MP Basil Rajapaksa, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Service Commanders and the IGP among others.
Prior to their resettlement the security in the area had to be strengthened, roads repaired and a new bridge constructed, he added.
In response to pleas from these displaced civilians to return to their hastily abandoned homes to check on their belongings, which some feared had been looted, the army this week permitted three groups of people representing about 100 families to visit their abodes. This was done in the presence of the respective area grama sevaka niladharis and policemen from the newly established police station in the region.
Last week Mannar Bishop Rayappu Joseph complained that when a ten member church delegation visited the recaptured areas they had found a laptop belonging to a Sister from Pakistan, had gone missing from their mission house at Sillavaturai along with a generator, amplifier, and some speakers.
On Friday when we contacted him about the visit of these civilians to their abandoned homes, a relieved Bishop Rayappu said not very many things had gone missing.
Mannar area Military Commander Brig. Channa Gunatillake said there wasn’t a single complaint from the civilians who visited their homes about any losses.
The number of displaced taking refuge in camps as a direct result of the operation to recapture the villages of Mullikulam, Sillavaturai and Arippu at the beginning of last month, which rose to some 1054 families, numbering some 3703 individuals by September 10 has now come down to less than 576 people, Brig Gunatillake said.
The three schools initially used to house the displaced, Don Bosco Vocational Training School, Nanattan Maha Vidyalayam, and Murunkan MV too have been cleared of people enabling school authorities to continue with their routine school activities. While most of the IDPs have gone to live with their friends and relatives, the few hundred still remaining have been sheltered at a public ground and rice mill at Nanattan.