Sept 28 (IRIN) MULLAITIVU- The last group of over 300 people from Menik Farm, once the world’s largest camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs), have been moved out, but not to their former villages.
“The world is being told an untruth about us being resettled,” Sivaguru Angaramuttu Udalayakumari,
a 43-year-old IDP relocated from Menik Farm, told IRIN as she got on a bus, adding that she had little idea where she was going.
The group was not allowed to return to their homes in the Kepapilavu area of northeastern Sri Lanka's Mullaitivu District because their land was being occupied by the military, but were instead, relocated on state-owned land and must wait to hear if they will be able to return home or, if not, whether they will receive compensation, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported.
Menik Farm closed officially on 25 September amid protests by 346 IDPs from the village of Kepapilavu who claimed they were being relocated against their will.
Following the end of Sri Lanka's decades-long civil war, more than 225,000 Tamil IDPs lived in the camp at its peak, where they received international and government assistance, including shelter, food, water, education and health care.
On 24 September, Security Forces Commander Maj-Gen Boniface Perera said the last group of 1,186 IDPs from the war would be resettled in their villages in Mullaitivu.
However, according to the 346 displaced from Kepapilavu, that did not happen. Many say they cannot return to their homes because their land has been taken over by the military.
"When officials arrived on Tuesday [25 September], people started weeping and asking why they were being brought to Seeniyamottai when their homes were in Kepapilavu," Udalayakumari said.
Government provides tents, shelters
Initially brought to a school in Vattrapplai in Mullaitivu, the IDPs were later brought to a recently cleared jungle area near the village of Seeniyamottai in Mullaitivu where they were given tents and food rations by the government.
A limited number of transitional shelters had already been constructed.
"An army officer instructed us to move out of the school [in Vattrapplai, Mullaitivu District, where they were allowed to stay one night before being relocated]. We thought we were being returned home, but we have been relocated without any assurances of being resettled in our village," Udalayakumari said.