Rachel Wolff, 253.394.2214
Colombo, December 3, 2009—The Government of Sri Lanka this week lifted all restrictions on the freedom of movement of the people held in displacement camps in the north of the country, signaling an important victory in the advocacy efforts of the humanitarian community.
Aid group World Vision and its partners have been calling for the speedy return of displaced families to their original homes and the freedom of movement for all those still remaining in the camps. Until now, displaced people have been unable to leave the camps to work, to visit relatives and friends or to obtain vital civil documents.
Several thousand people have already taken advantage of their newly established freedom and left the camps to visit friends and relatives living in the region—with many returning to the camps in the evening to spend the night with their families. To remain registered at the camps, civilians must not be gone for more than 15 days.
Meanwhile, resettlement of the more than 280,000 civilians displaced by the civil war has been slow due to screening processes, clearance of landmines and unexploded ordnance and the lack of basic infrastructure to support the setting up of livelihoods for returnees. As of the end of November, an estimated 126,000 people remained in the camps. The government of Sri Lanka has stated that all internally displaced person will be resettled by the end of January.
With its 15 years of work in northern Sri Lanka, World Vision is planning to play a key role in the resettlement process, focusing primarily on helping families recover their livelihoods. The agency also expects to assist with families’ needs in the areas of shelter, water and sanitation, and to train communities on child protection issues.
Since May this year, World Vision has trucked more than 12 million liters of water to the camps, distributed some 150,000 packets of cooked food and supplied 95 metric tons of complementary food to the communal kitchens. The aid group has also set up Child-Friendly Spaces and temporary learning centers for more than 3,500 children.
World Vision is a Christian relief and development organization dedicated to helping children and their communities worldwide reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty. We serve the world’s poor --regardless of a person’s religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, please visit www.worldvision.org/press.