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Tension between IDPs and host community an issue “ CHR

Tension between IDPs and host community an issue “ CHR

2011 Jan 10

The Northern Muslims claimed that lack of information and resources prevented them from going back to the North. Testifying before the LLRC some of them claimed that they preferred to stay in Puttalam citing better economic opportunities as the reason.

The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) met representatives of Northern Muslims, (IDPs) driven away from the North in 1990 by the LTTE, and those from the host community of Puttalam on 7th January 2011.

  The number of submissions were relatively low compared to other field visits—23 in all. The Centre for Human Rights (CHR) observes that there were clear indications of dissension among the residents of the area and the IDPs.

The following is an edited version of a CHR statement:

Representatives of the Puttalam Muslims who host approximately 150,000 Northern Muslims were critical of the IDPS from the North for their alleged unwillingness to adapt to host community’s way of living. Some of the community leaders representing the Puttalam Muslims claimed that their northern counterparts had habits and practices traditionally shunned by the host community and added that the government and the INGOs were only concerned about the IDPs.

 The LLRC n was requested to change the mandate of INGOs to include the members of the host community as well in decision making process as they were keen on the issues to be addressed by relevant authorities. 

The Northern Muslims claimed that lack of information and resources prevented them from going back to the North. Testifying before the LLRC some of them claimed that they preferred to stay in Puttalam citing better economic opportunities as the reason.

Six schools have been opened for the IDPs and a large number of them have received housing through various projects.

Another reason for IDPs’ desire to stay back in Puttalam is the belief that they cannot survive without rations given by the government and UNHCR. It is estimated that over 68,000 people still receive rations from UNHCR and retaining an identity as IDPs was advantageous to them rather than integration into the host community in one of Sri Lanka’s poorest regions. This ‘dependant mentality’ is an impediment to the resettlement of IDPs.

Voter Rights also came to the fore during the LLRC sessions as many Northern Muslims told the Commissioners that there was much confusion over a circular issued by the Department of Election on December 2010 that in the future the Northern Muslims should register either in Puttalam or move to the North to be able to exercise their franchise. Many of them do not like to lose their voting rights in the North but are wary of resettlement for fear of losing rations.


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