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we need our land and home

Written By Freedam to the nation resettlement of IDPs on Friday, September 7, 2012 | 3:48 AM





Case study – Resettlement of Sri Lankan IDPs

The Mullikulam village is located at Musali divisional.secretariat division, in Mannar district in the northern province of Sri Lanka. The first settlers of Mullikulam village were lived since 1800 A.D. They are 100% Tamil by ethnicity and Catholics as their religious background. People were living with agriculture and fishing for their livelihood. Villagers have permanent deeds for agriculture lands mainly paddy fields up to 1200 acres of land within the village. They were rain fed by 5 tanks and water provided with major irrigation scheme with one tank in the village. Fishing was the other major occupation for most of the villages.

Mullikulam people were displaced in 1990 in first time in the history. They were displaced till 2002 the time of Memorandum Of Understanding, the peace agreement signed between Government Of Sri Lanka and LTTE. They were able to live in their village only 5 years and they became displaced again in 2007. When the final war began, military approached the people and said to vacate their homes immediately and without carrying anything. The promise was given to them that they will be returned home within 3 days and no need to bring anything belong to them. On the 7th September 2007, they vacated their houses with empty hands and have been living in many places around Mannar nearly 5 years now. There were more than 400 families living in Mullikulam when they were evicted. Most of them were living in Thalvupadu, Valkeipetrankandal, Thalaimannar, Nanattam, Madukkarai, and also at Mannar town for the displaced period. In Mullikulam area, there is a proposal to establish a naval base which needs 1000 hectares as Ravaya news paper, one national weekly reported. The 3 decades elongated brutal war caused serious damage to the lives and violated Mullikulam community's social, economic, cultural, environmental and political rights seriously. However, the demand of the people was to get back to their own houses in Mullikulam village.

They were attempted to get back to their own houses with the support of Bishop of Mannar, parish priest of Silavaturai and other priests of the diocese, many other officials including district secretary, divisional secretary, navy area commanders and NGOs Specially NAFSO involved with them. Due to the demand of the people, Bishop of Mannar together with other bishops approached the President and expected to find a solution. However, there was no positive response except the secretary to the defense ministry had agreed to visit the place and find a solution but there was no substantial response received by the community.

Millikulam people had attempted many ways to regain their land and homes back. They had approached all possible politician including the president, Resettlement minister, Ministerial officials, also approached all possible district government officials including district secretary of Mannar, divisional secretary of Musali, Navy commanders in the district, secretary of defense ministry, UNHCR, and church leaders. In August 2011, they organized a peaceful march in Mannar town, submit petitions to the authorities demanding their land back, called media conference, attended many of the meetings in the south to express their grievances and seek the assistance from the southern brothers and sisters concern. For these actions NAFSO supported and educated the people for organizing, networking, advocacy & lobby process. In fact NAFSO together with LST and few other local organizations have reported the case of Mullikulam people at the Universal Periodic Review [UPR], at Geneva last April. This will be taken up at the UPR sessions on Sri Lanka this October/ November. However, there was no positive response received from the authorities giving signal to resettle in their own village. When they got the leadership for their rights they were faced threaten from political sectors and government authorities but they never give up their target to resettle their own lands. In the mean time, these people were permitted to go to neighboring village. In a meeting the additional district secretary of Mannar expressed, "Mullikkulam people can go and resettle near Mullikkulam."

After long attempts, people are tired with all the burdens. They have made their minds to face the situation and had decided to go back to nearer village of Mullikulam which is Manangkadu and Periyakulam. However, so far they were not allowed to settle the place where they expected.

So they decided to settle at Marichchikattu with the aim of settle at Manangkadu village which is adjacent village of Mullikulam, since 15th June 2012.

Mullikulam people said they need to build their lives again after 22 years. So, now there are 212 families with 425 households come to the Marichchikattu jungle and stayed without any basic facilities. Sri Lanka Navy forces had put up two toilets and has provided one water tank which filled with drinking water on daily basis. So, these people request to help for building their livelihood again so they need fishing boats, nets, engines, lamps, water cans, mosquito nets, dry rations, kerosene and other basic materials for living etc.

NAFSO field officer work with these people to find out the basic needs. We have given dry rations for two weeks. In the same time we have done media actions to show the world for getting their facilities and pressure the government to give their basic facilities.

It is unbearable discrimination without any reason they were not allowed to return their original places. Government should think twice before they implement this type of decisions with the people who were badly affected by a brutal war. They should also be gained the dividends of peace in the country as proclaimed by the politicians and people always. So NAFSO has started lobbying to implement the LLRC recommendation too.

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