Dr. Jayalath unhappy, asks UNHCR to take action on resettlement

Mar 2 (IL) Gampaha District UNP MP former Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Refuges Minister Dr. Jayalath Jayawardena has requested Director, United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Ruude Lubbers to take whatever appropriate action to ensure that the displaced Sri Lankan tsunami victims are resettled according to the universally accepted UN guideline principles on Internally Displaced Persons. "Unfortunately the present government headed by President Chandrika Kumaratunga is trying to introduce a resettlement programme for tsunami victims against the wishes of these victims," says Dr. Jayawardena in his letter to Mr. Lubbers.

Dr. Jayawardena says that President Kumaratunga is trying to force the innocent displaced persons out of their habitual and traditional residences by trying to impose a 100-metre buffer zone extending from the sea beach.

The government has taken this decision against the wishes of the displaced, Dr. Jayawardene charged.

In his letter he has reminded as the then Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Refugees of Sri Lanka how he resettled more than 40'000 families displaced by the ethnic conflict in their places of origin according to their wishes.

"Even the World Bank has proposed to the President that there should be a consultative process with these tsunami victims along with the people's representatives etc., to arrive at a decision regarding the resettlement of the internally displaced people safely.

Other International Donor Agencies like, JICA. IMF, ADS also are in an agreement with the World Bank proposal to have a consultative process to arrive at a decision that the internally displaced people are being resettled voluntarily, in safety and with dignity to their homes or place of habitual residences or to resettle voluntarily on another part of the country," says Mr. Jayawardena in the letter.

"I kindly request you to take whatever appropriate action to make sure that these innocent victims of tsunami in Sri Lanka who have been displaced from their place of habitual and traditional residences to be resettled voluntarily, safely and with dignity according to the universally accepted UN Guideline Principles on Internal Displaced Persons," the letter states in conclusion