Conducive Environment Created by Security Forces: Vakarai Civilians Return to a Life Free of Terror (Sri Lanka)

THOUSANDS OF CIVILIANS who fled areas in Vakarai seeking refuge in welfare centres in Batticaloa are returning to their villages to lead a life free of terror after the Security Forces have created a conducive environment for a better life for the villagers.


"We returned to our homes voluntarily. Today, there is no shelling. No sounds of guns as it happened earlier. Now we can resume our jobs here in Vakarai," Arunasalam, a fisherman by profession who returned to his village after a month long stay at welfare centres in Valachchenai told the Daily News as he was reunited with his family in Vakarai yesterday.

Despite adverse reports that civilians have been forcibly resettled in their villages, reporters who visited there yesterday observed the way people are returning to their villages freely.

"There is no pressure on us. We have decided ourselves to return to our villages as the situation has greatly improved," Arunasalam said.

The Government supported by the Security Forces and the Police has expedited the process of resettling displaced civilians from the Vakarai area after expediting the process of de-mining and the restoration of infrastructure facilities.

However, as an area which is still struggling to recover from the 2004 Tsunami catastrophe, it has yet to undergo immense development process and experience a normal situation there.

But people are willingly returning to their villages bundling all the possessions they had collected while they were at welfare centres in Valachchenai to commence a new life free of terror acts and harassment.

"We need a free life. We do not have any job as yet. But we feel safe here in Vakarai after the Security Forces took control over the area," Suresh Kumar, a 22 year old, father of one said. General Officer Commanding the 23 Division of the Sri Lanka Army, Brigadier Daya Ratnayaka said the process of resettling displaced people in Vakarai has been expedited in view of the people who are awaiting to return to their villages.

"We have set March 31 as the deadline for the completion of the resettlement of IDPs in the Vakarai area. We do not want to look at them as IDPs any longer. Their villages have been cleared of mines and they can easily resettle in their villages," General Officer Commanding 23 Division of the Sri Lankan Army, Brigadier Daya Ratnayaka said.

Out of 15,289 people who are to be resettled in 11 Grama Seva Divisions in Vakarai, more than 3,500 people have already been resettled in their villages.

"We are confident that we can achieve our set targets as all facilities have been provided by the Government to facilitate the resettlement of IDPs in Vakarai," the Brigadier added.

Von: 19.03.2007

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