Comment by : Sucharita Sengupta
There are so many disasters that result into catastrophes in our lives, and displacement in itself is one such instance. Sri Lanka has remained a hapless witness and victim of a number of displacements till now, stemming out of a varied number of reasons. In the editorial column of the Asian Tribune, dated April 14 2010, Dr. Palitha T.B Kohona, ambassador and representative to the United Nations, traces briefly how despite several displacements, the state of Sri Lanka has recovered its economy and overcome other grave challenges with a fair amount of success. The article is an appraisal of the efforts by the government in rendering aid to the internally displaced and provide basic amenities to the camps where the evicted took shelter.
Starting from December 2004, when Tsunami has wiped away more than a million lives and displaced so many more, to 2007, when almost 187,000 people were displaced from the Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka in process of combating the LTTE, the country has faced tremendous devastation. The victims post 2007, were accommodated to camps with food, water and health care. The UNHCR, ICRC and WFP along with some other international organizations have played active roles in providing aid, specifically, in terms of resettlement of the internally displacement persons (IDPs). The government has been able to provide the people with food, shelter and also medical assistance in the camps. Even after Tsunami, most of the victims have been able to either return or reconstruct their houses. The article mentions that in some areas reconstruction has exceeded 110%.
The author claims that this post displacement situation is in exact contrast to the western countries. The way Sri Lanka has been able to ride over the traumas caused after the Tsunami had lashed out, has not been exemplified there. Similarly, people who were evicted from the Eastern Province after the bitter battle that ensued between the government and the LTTE, most of the victims have returned back to their respective homes. The abandoned villages have been reconstructed, roads have been repaired and the economic progress has also been remarkably well. Those displaced from Vanni have also started coming back.
The challenges ahead for Sri Lanka would be to ensure peace and security for its citizens. Since the defeat of the LTTE in May, 2009, the government has promised a speedy recovery of the losses which have accounted from a conflict spanning over twenty seven years. The return of all the displaced persons to their homes and restoration of the economy are the major priority of the government. Right to return of the people to a normal life again has also been mandatory for the government since providing relief to the displaced in the camps is costing the government millions. The author expresses his hope of a ‘nation building’ and further development of Sri Lanka, now that the LTTE has been uprooted. It has to be well equipped in order to combat tragedies like Tsunami so that the plight of displacement can be avoided. It would pursue its policy of non- alignment and remain committed to dealing with global concerns like terrorism.