Thursday, December 01, 2005

The absence of war is not peace, Jaffna civilians


Thousands of people who had been living in refugee camps for over 15 years protested in front of Uduvil Pradeshya Sabha offices today.

The people had been displaced as a result of the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) occupying their homes, businesses, schools, hospital and places of worship under the pretence of High Security Zones.

Although there has been almost 4 years of peace, the SLA has not vacated these places and the people continue to live in refugee camps.

Under intense pressure of civilian groups the government had agreed to pay Rupees 1140 per month as compensation for the displaced people. This payment is based on a 1990 estimate of living expenditure. Sri Lanka has faced over 10% inflation for every year of the last 15.

However, rather than attempting to increase the compensation according to inflation, the government had actually reduced the amount to a mere Rupees 750 a month.

Commenting on the situation, a civilian said ‘for the past 15 years we have been living in a refugee camp. Some people tell us we have peace now, but I don’t see any difference.’ He further pointed out ‘every time a police man stops me on the streets I have to pay him Rupees 100. What the government gives us in compensation is what it takes away from us by using the police and army.’

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