The Forgotten Muslim IDPs in Sri Lanka

Naalir Jamaldeen, in the Sunday Observer,, 25 July 2015

The Resettlement of Northern Muslim IDPs still remains unresolved. Many factors were attributed for the present status. Several challenges have hindered their resettlement. There was no substantial plan from the Government for their resettlement, a significant part of the land that belonged to Northern Muslims were taken away by the LTTE and given to Tamils during the conflict period and the housing assistance given to the displaced was inefficient, Northern Province Majlish Shoora President S.H.M. Mubarak Moulavi told the Sunday Observer.

The Northern Muslims have the right to come and live in the places from where they have been displaced. Increase in population may also be a cause which hindered their resettlement.muslim IDPS 11


Muslims 22During the last 25 years, one family has become at least three. There may be lot of sibling disputes regarding ownership. Water and sewerage systems should be modernized before any resettlement and multi- storied apartments could be a solution, Mubarak Moulavi said.

Twenty five years have lapsed since the forcible eviction of the Northern Muslims by the LTTE in 1990, overnight from their homes and traditional habitats and they have been living scattered in many places in the South. They mostly live in Puttalam, Kurunegala, some parts of Colombo Kalutara with a large majority of them not having their proper homes, regular professions to eke out a living or hopes of any future, All Ceylon Makkal Congress Secretary General, Y.L.S Hameed said.

During the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime they were categorised as ‘previously displaced persons’ and no meaningful steps were taken to resettle them in their own places, Hameed said adding that they received step-motherly treatment and were not given priority in resettlement although they deserved it.

Some of those who managed to resettle in their own places have not been extended any relief or rehabilitation assistance and they are suffering. The problems of these families must be taken into consideration for providing relief and rehabilitation assistance, he said. The displaced Northern Muslims have the same right like other communities and this should be considered he said.

Besides, Mubarak Moulavi said that a Presidential Committee must be set up to discuss the resettlement issues of the displaced Northern Muslims. Such a committee is also crucial to address the problems of the Sinhala people who lived in the Northern province before the emergence of terrorism. Affected Sinhala people’s problem should also be addressed in line with that of the displaced Muslims.

Since the displacement we asked the Governments which came to power to set up a presidential committee to address this issue, our request still remains unfulfilled.

Mubarak Moulavi said that 12,500 persons have been resettled in Mannar, Mullaitivu, Vavuniya and Jaffna districts so far.

A large number people have been resettled in the Mannar district. When the Muslims displaced in 1990, the total number of families were 30,000 families and the number of persons were 99,988. Now it has increased two to three folds. 30,000 families have exceeded and there are 75,000 families.The resettled people have many problems which have to be addressed. They have land, education and livelihood problems.

Agriculture, fisheries and cottage industry are the main sources of livelihood and they don’t have sufficient facilities to cater to these industries. Lack of water, fishing gear and equipment have also brought these industries to a halt, he said.

They have hardly any facilities and the electricity problem remains the worst in the resettled areas. They also don’t have sanitation facilities. There is no burial ground. There are no access roads,and many of them live in the surrounding jungle. Upto now several people have been killed by wild elephants , Mubarak Moulavi said.

Since the forcible eviction of Muslims from the Northern province Governments have changed. Muslim Ministers also had been in those Governments. But so far they have not raised a voice for the resettlement of forcibly evicted Northern Muslims, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) Secretary General M.T. Hassan Ali said.

Even though 25 years have lapsed no productive action was taken to resettle them, he said.

Only a few thousand Muslim IDPs have been resettled so far and a large number of them have to be resettled. Priority should be given to the resettlement of Muslim IDPs, he said.

The Muslim IDP’ resettlement problem was used to gain political mileage not for the sake of displaced Northern Muslims, he said.









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