Colombo: Moved by the plight of Tamils displaced during the three-decade-long civil war, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has promised to set up a special task force to resettle them within six months.
“I will set up a special Presidential Task Force to resettle these people in their original places within 6 months. I will bring the military, police and the state agencies together to achieve this,” Sirisena said addressing a Christmas event in Jaffna yesterday.
“I went inside their homes and myself saw the sorry conditions they live in,” the President said.
Sirisena also criticised those who accuse him and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe of compromising national security by easing the rigid security conditions imposed in the north. “I invite those who shout from Colombo about national security to come and inspect these living conditions. I will provide all facilities for them to visit the north if they want to,” he said.
“The national security is not under threat… The national security is a question in the lives of these people who have been displaced 25 years ago,” he said.
He said although his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government had been able to finish the war and bring in peace, true reconciliation has not been achieved. “The war was won, peace has returned but the root causes of the war still remain,” he said.
Sirisena since January has brought in some relief measures for the Tamil minority in response to their long felt demands.
Sirisena’s government released civilian lands occupied by the military for over 30 years, lifted travel restrictions to the north and appointed civilian governors by removing the ex-military governors in the two provinces. He charged that the Rajapaksa followers in his own party were trying to topple the government by using alleged national security challenges as an issue.
A UN panel has said around 40,000 mainly Tamil civilians were killed in the final months of the country’s separatist war.
UNHCR Mid-year Trends 2014’ published by the UN agency said 1,23,028 persons of Lankan origin were refugees, another 16,190 were asylum-seekers (pending cases) and 30,847 were declared IDPs, either protected or assisted by UNHCR as of June 2014.