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Prospects for Durable Solutions for Protracted IDPs in Sri Lanka
Centre for Policy Alternatives
Commissioned by Norwegian Refugee Council
The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) is an independent, non-partisan organisation that focuses primarily on issues of governance and conflict resolution. Formed in 1996 in the firm belief that the vital contribution of civil society to the public policy debate is in need of strengthening, CPA is committed to programmes of research and advocacy through which public policy is critiqued, alternatives identified and disseminated. Address: 24/2 28th Lane, off Flower Road, Colombo 7 Telephone: +94 (11) 2565304/5/6 Fax: +94 (11) 4714460, Web www.cpalanka.org, Email firstname.lastname@example.org
This report is based on desk and field research conducted by CPA from October 2012 to January 2013. The principal author is Mirak Raheem. Luwie Ganeshathasan was the principal field researcher and was also heavily involved in the editing of the report. We would like to acknowledge the ﬁeld work carried out by Ahamed Lebbe Junaideen, Yoganathan Sivayogarajan, Amalathas Jeyandran, S. Thambipillai, Sujith Kumara and Sampath Samarakoon and desk research carried out by Shaufa Ahmed Saeed, Chandula Kumubakage and Thenmozhy Kugamourthy. We would like to thank Bhavani Fonseka who was involved in the planning of the project and the editing of the report. We would also like to thank Dr Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, D. Jegatheeswaran and A. Sooriyakumar for assisting with editing the report, Sujith Kumara for preparing the cover and the map, and Sanjana Hattotuwa for formatting the report. CPA would like to thank the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) who commissioned this report, and in particular Jessica Skinner who was keenly involved in the project, including in providing substantive feedback and suggestions. The research and report would not have been possible if not for the assistance and support provided by the numerous individuals and organisations in Jaffna, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Anurdhapura and Colombo. CPA is deeply indebted to the individuals – including but not limited to community leaders, civil society activities, humanitarian workers and local government actors- who provided information on the overall situation and assistance to verify individual cases in sometimes extremely difficult circumstances. Names of these individuals have been withheld due to security reasons, as requested by them. A special acknowledgement needs to be extended to displaced persons and those attempting to return, locally integrate or relocate who were interviewed, many of whom despite the sense of hopelessness and frustration with their current situation and of being interviewed by yet another group of NGO workers, took the time to share their thoughts and experience. The views expressed in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NRC.
Table of Contents
Overview ........................................................................................................................................ 5 Recommendations ......................................................................................................................... 8 About this report .......................................................................................................................... 12 Chapter 1: Introduction ................................................................................................................ 14 1.1 Context .............................................................................................................................. 14 1.2 Protracted Displacement and its Impacts ........................................................................... 15 1.3 Ending Displacement and Finding Durable Solutions .......................................................... 17 Chapter 2: Protracted Displacement in Sri Lanka ......................................................................... 20 2.1Protracted IDP populations and numbers ............................................................................ 20 2.2 Hidden protracted displacement ........................................................................................ 24 Chapter 3: Responses of State and other Actors ......................................................................... 29 3.1 Discrimination against ‘Old IDPs’ in Policy .......................................................................... 29 3.2 Policy Responses: Major Gaps and Concerns .................................................................... 33 3.3 Role of humanitarian agencies, civil society and political actors .......................................... 36 Chapter 4: Settlement options: Complex choices for IDPs ........................................................... 38 4.1 Factors influencing settlement choices of IDPs ................................................................... 38 4.2 Protracted displacement: Complicating choices further ...................................................... 41 Chapter 5: Challenges to Achieving Durable Solutions ................................................................. 45 5.1 Return ................................................................................................................................ 45 5.2 Relocation .......................................................................................................................... 48 5.3 Local Integration ................................................................................................................. 51 5.4 Reconfiguring Assistance to Further Durable Solutions ....................................................... 53 Conclusion ............................................................................................................................... 55
Four years after the end of the war displacement resulting from the war continues to be a problem in Sri Lanka. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) there were over 94,447 internally displaced persons (IDPs) resulting from war as of December 2012. Over 75,000 of these IDPs are persons for whom the process of finding meaningful and sustainable solutions in the form of return, relocation or local integration is effectively stalled and they are understood to be facing protracted displacement. Many of these IDPs have faced multiple displacements over the course of the conflict and despite the Government’s claim that ‘resettlement’ has been concluded, there continue to be IDPs living in welfare centres, with host families and even in or nearby their places of origin without being able to return. In addition, many who have chosen a settlement option such as return, local integration or relocation are far from having found a durable solution in line with the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Framework on Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons, an internationally recognised tool used to determine when displacement has ended i.e. when IDPs no longer have specific assistance or needs linked to their displacement. While protracted displacement is an international phenomenon, it is not widely recognised in Sri Lanka, and instead IDPs are generally classified as ‘Old’ or ‘New’. The ‘New IDPs’ are categorised as persons who were displaced after April 2008 and were held in closed welfare camps, while the ‘Old IDPs’ are persons displaced before April 2008. While ‘Old IDPs’ account for a significant proportion of protracted IDPs, it is possible that they are a number of displaced persons (some who may be categorised as ‘New IDPs’) who have been displaced for much longer than is assumed or face a situation in which no durable solutions are in sight. The vast majority of Sri Lanka’s protracted IDPs are from the North and East and are predominantly Tamil and Muslim. In the post-war context, ‘Old IDPs’ have faced discrimination in policy. Not only were they initially excluded from statistics on IDPs but they also received lower levels of assistance. Moreover there were significant delays in facilitating return of ‘Old IDPs’ to their places of origin. The ‘New’ versus ‘Old’ classification has therefore become increasingly problematic as it focuses attention on date of displacement rather than vulnerability and needs of the displaced. There are significant limitations in terms of the data available on protracted displacement. It appears that there are populations of protracted IDPs who are ‘hidden’ for various reasons including the lack of assessments conducted to ascertain if IDPs have voluntarily chosen a settlement option and actually found durable solutions. Many IDPs who the Government or even humanitarian agencies assume have successfully locally integrated or whom the Government no longer consider IDPs, such as Muslim IDPs from the North and West of Batticaloa or IDPs living with host families, are living in difficult conditions and have yet to find durable solutions.
A failure to acknowledge and recognise the impacts of protracted displacement has rendered some policy initiatives and assistance measures ineffective or even counter-productive. For instance, those who originate from areas that have opened for return are automatically deregistered as IDPs even though they may face many obstacles to return. Return has tended to be over-emphasised as a settlement option and those who do not return immediately are simply assumed to have locally integrated or relocated elsewhere and to have found durable solutions. However, the evidence shows that for a range of well-founded reasons, protracted IDPs take time to decide on whether to return and may return in a staggered manner over a prolonged period. In reality, many protracted IDPs find that their choices of settlement options are considerably narrowed owing to the manner in which assistance is structured, including the lack of meaningful support for local integration. Further, in some situations specific settlement options may not even be available. For instance, return is ruled out for many IDPs because of the refusal of the State to release areas currently occupied, such as in Tellipalai in Jaffna or Sampur in Trincomalee, for civilian ‘resettlement’, choosing instead to acquire the land for military or development purposes. Even when IDPs do have options available to them, the evidence shows that a number of push and pull factors shape their choices. These include their economic status, ownership of land, services and resources available, livelihood opportunities, levels of assistance for different options and associated risks, social relations and emotional connections, pressure from government officials and political leaders, etc. For protracted IDPs all these options can be even more complicated owing in part to the duration in displacement and the effort they may have invested in trying to rebuild their lives in places of refuge. Moreover, while Government and humanitarian actors and the Durable Solutions Framework itself view return, local integration and relocation as mutually exclusive and one-time choices, protracted IDPs often see these choices differently. They see in these options a combination of several possibilities and their choices often reflect a mix of options subject to the situation and an assessment of various factors, opportunities and risks. Hence, for example, IDP families may return in phases or even opt for two settlement choices for a period of time but these complexities have not been recognised in policy. There is the additional challenge of second generation IDPs or the children of those who were originally displaced who may not always be recognised, especially as right holders in their place of origin. Marginalisation of ‘Old IDPs’ and a failure to account for the impacts of protracted and continuing displacement point to significant policy gaps and failures in dealing with the issues of displacement in general. Despite pronouncements and commitments made to the national and international community, the Government has failed to draw up a comprehensive framework or policy to protect the rights of IDPs. Even the recommendations with respect to IDPs contained in the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and the National Human rights Action Plan, limited as they may be, have not been fully acted upon. Currently, assistance to IDPs does not address complex ground realities nor does it embrace a longer-term vision of socio-economic integration, including guaranteeing livelihood security and
development infrastructure. Moreover, there are serious concerns over lack of equity and consistency in assistance provided to IDPs, which in turn also impinges on its ability to address inter- and intra-ethnic tensions around rights and entitlements. More fundamentally, the Government has not undertaken nor allowed the UN to undertake a comprehensive assessment of all IDPs and their current needs and status. There is also an urgent need to facilitate and strengthen processes and mechanisms to address issues such as compensation and restitution, land disputes and land acquisition, peaceful coexistence and ethnic harmony, and access to justice and redress for human rights violations. Addressing protracted displacement and securing durable solutions for all IDPs is central not only to resolving the crisis of internal displacement but also in moving towards a meaningful, just and sustainable peace in Sri Lanka.
While recognising that a range of measures are needed to address the concerns of all IDPs and that specific IDP communities have particular needs,1 this report makes the following key overarching recommendations to policy makers on responding to protracted displacement within Sri Lanka:
To the Government, Donors, Humanitarian Agencies and Civil Society Actors 1. Recognise and publicly acknowledge continuing instances of displacement and IDPs as a unique category of persons with specific problems arising out of their displacement. 2. Phase out categorisation of ‘Old’ and ‘New’ IDPs. End discriminatory practices that deprioritise provision of assistance to ‘Old IDPs’ based on their date of displacement and ensure prioritisation is based on a comprehensive assessment of need. 3. Recognise that fully informed and voluntary settlement choices do not necessarily imply that durable solutions have been found in places of refuge or places of origin. 4. Recognise the specific impacts of protracted displacement including the challenges this may pose to IDPs in making clear-cut settlement choices. 5. Provide basic humanitarian assistance to and safeguard the rights of IDPs currently lacking settlement options and who remain internally displaced. 6. Review policies and programmes to ensure: • Equity in assistance for returnees from all IDP communities, based on a comprehensive needs assessment and accounts for the varied experiences of displacement. Ensure that assistance for relocation is in keeping with the National Involuntary Resettlement Policy and international standards. Support for local integration, including through focussed development programmes in areas with concentrations of locally integrated IDPs. Targeted assistance to safeguard the rights and address the needs of vulnerable groups, including female-headed households, the disabled and the elderly. Ensure that development programmes focus on retraining and equipping individuals with necessary skills and equipment to suit livelihood opportunities in situations where relocation or return would necessitate a change in livelihood. Ensure participation of IDP’s and other local actors in design and decision-making process.
IDMC, 2012.Sri Lanka: A hidden displacement crisis, 31 October, Geneva: Fonseka, B. and Raheem, M., 2011. Land in the Northern Province, Post-War Politics, Policy and Practices, CPA (Centre for Policy Alternatives).
To the Government 7. Ensure that assistance and support for all IDPs accounts for the deprivations and violations they have suffered, and their immediate and long-term needs. 8. Uphold the constitutional rights of all IDPs to choose their place of residence anywhere in the country and respect the right to return of IDPs who choose local integration or settlement elsewhere in Sri Lanka. 9. Conduct a comprehensive assessment of all aspects of displacement across all areas that have historically hosted IDPs, with a focus on the Northern, Eastern, North-Western and North-Cental Provinces. The goal must be to identify those who still have assistance and protection needs linked to their displacement and those who no longer do and have thus successfully achieved a durable solution. Such an assessment should be used to guide policy responses to address the specific needs of IDPs, including social, civil, political and cultural rights and any other obstacles to the achievement of a durable solution. The specific needs of the host communities should also be included to understand the impact of hosting IDPs and the development of equitable responses. The Framework on Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons should guide such an assessment and policy response. 10. Respect and support the preferred voluntary settlement option of IDPs including phased return or a combination of local integration and return for IDP families who prefer that option. 11. Facilitate IDPs’ registration with local authorities as residents and voters in their preferred locations, and enable non-discriminatory access to land rights and all essential services. Safeguard the rights of second generation IDPs, especially their right to return, vote and land rights. 12. Provide essential infrastructure including schools, water, electricity and transport facilities. 13. Avoid involuntary relocation due to occupation or acquisition of private or common lands by the military and other state functionaries, which would also avoid exacerbating suffering and socio-political tensions. In exceptional instances where land cannot be returned to civilians, the Government needs to take steps to follow due process, provide compensation and support in which would ensure sustainable relocation. 14. Facilitate and support civil society and strengthen the democratic space for IDPs to enable voluntary and informed choices by IDPs regarding durable solutions and expression of their grievances and problems without fear. 15. Develop administrative measures at the district level so as to ensure that IDPs seeking durable solutions are facilitated and assisted by the government bureaucracy. This includes provision of all relevant information to returnees, registration of those formerly displaced in their area of origin if they are opting to return (including second generation IDPs), and restoring land ownership and lost documents. This could prove particularly useful given the ethnicisation of administrative divisions and in areas where the returnees are minorities.
16. While acknowledging current efforts to address land issues, including the January 2013 Land Circular, credible, transparent and participatory mechanisms need to be established to address land disputes, including occupation by the military and other state or non-state actors of both state and private lands. Given the lacuna in the Circular additional measures to address complex land disputes need to be devised. Settlement of persons from outside the district where land is being allocated, especially from another province, needs to be done after land disputes and landlessness within the district have been addressed. Given the sensitivities and the linkages between land colonisation and the conflict, this issue of settlement of persons from outside the North and East needs to be dealt with sensitively. 17. Develop policies and mechanisms to address issues of loss and suffering, including compensation and restitution as well as access to justice and remedies for human rights violations suffered by all IDPs and other war-affected persons. The Government needs to address critical issues relating to post-war justice and reconciliation including loss and suffering. The recommendations made by the LLRC and previous Presidential Commissions of Inquiry regarding human rights violations must be taken into account while doing so. 18. Facilitate and provide permission for projects dealing with “soft issues” including counselling, empowerment and peace building which can be implemented by national and international organisations 19. Establish and facilitate mechanisms, such as coexistence committees and other confidence building measures, including those recommended by the LLRC, to foster coexistence, and minimise and resolve problems between and within ethnic communities and further integration between IDPs and other war-affected communities.
To Humanitarian Agencies and Civil Society Actors 20. Devise measures to address problems between communities, including those relating to land, and the underlying relationships. Possible measures could include creating/strengthening coexistence committees independent of government and engaging in symbolic but important initiatives to enhance trust and understanding, including by highlighting problems faced by IDPs and returnees from ethnic communities other than their own. 21. Ensure that interventions and projects do not exacerbate conflicts or undermine the rights of the IDPs. As such it is important to be more aware of the local histories of communities they work with and the implications of working on certain issues such as providing permanent housing for those having to relocate due to military occupation. 22. Support and facilitate the efforts of IDPs and local civil society groups working with IDPs to ensure that their rights are protected. This would also involve ensuring an active protection dimension to humanitarian and development work.
23. Devise and improve advocacy efforts to highlight continuing needs of IDPs and those attempting to find durable solutions.
About this report
This report examines protracted displacement in Sri Lanka, drawing attention to more than 75,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) for whom the process of finding meaningful and sustainable solutions in the form of return, relocation or local integration is effectively stalled. It maps key concerns and issues faced by these protracted IDPs and assesses measures taken to address them in the light of international standards especially the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Framework on Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons and the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. The report underlines how protracted displacement shapes choices and efforts of IDPs at finding durable solutions and recommends measures to advance their realisation. Drawing particularly on the cases of protracted IDPs from the Tellipallai High Security Zone and Sampur High Security/Economic Zone in Jaffna and Trincomalee districts respectively, Muslim IDPs from the west and north of Batticaloa District, and Sinhalese IDPs from Weli Oya/Manal Aru, the report highlights key shared concerns and differences between various internally displaced communities. In addition to interviews with IDPs conducted between October and December 2012—in welfare centres and with host families as well as returnees and those locally integrated or relocated, government officials, humanitarian workers and civil society groups—the report also draws on secondary sources. The pressures of time coupled with the challenges in obtaining reliable information from government and civil society actors, especially due to reluctance and apprehension among IDPs and government officials to provide information, placed limitations on this study. The fear of discussing displacement four years after the war is a cause for significant concern as it signals the challenges faced by protracted IDPs in securing recognition and the gravity of the issues at stake. As such, a number of precautions have been taken, including maintaining anonymity, to avoid putting interviewees at risk. At the outset it is important to delineate the terms used in this report: • Protracted IDPs – Those IDPs for whom the process of finding meaningful settlement options are effectively stalled. The three settlement options are return, local integration and relocation. ‘Old’ and ‘New’ IDPs – These are the two main categories used to describe IDPs resulting from the war in Sri Lanka. While the term has been used in the past, there was a reclassification in 2008 and ‘New’ was used to denote those who were last displaced in the Vanni after April 2008 and who would be placed in closed camps, while ‘Old’ was used to describe those who were displaced prior to this date. These terms are problematic and this report is opting to use the term Protracted IDPs. Return – When a displaced person settles in the place of origin. Local Integration – When a displaced person settles in the location in which they have been living in displacement.
Relocation – when a displaced person settles in another part of the country, other than the place of origin or location of displacement.2 ‘Resettlement’ – Although in global terms this word is often used to describe settlement else where, in Sri Lanka it is most frequently used to describe return. This report will not use the term unless in the context of official policy. Registration and Deregistration – In order for a displaced person to be officially recognised as an IDP they need to be registered by the Government authorities. De-registration is when an IDP is taken off the list of displaced persons by government actors. A deregistered IDP can register themselves in their place of origin as a returnee or register themselves elsewhere as local residents.
The report begins with an Introduction that outlines the context of internal displacement in Sri Lanka and the relevance of the IASC Framework on Durable Solutions. Chapter 2 examines the scope of protracted displacement and the challenges of inclusion and exclusion in estimating IDP populations including looking at the question of hidden protracted displacement. Chapter 3 assesses state responses, including marginalisation of ‘Old IDPs’ and key policy gaps, and the role of humanitarian agencies, civil society and political actors. Chapter 4 examines how protracted displacement complicates the settlement choices of IDPs, underlining the need for policy responses to account for the context and dynamics influencing their decision-making. Chapter 5 looks at the obstacles that IDPs face in translating settlement options into durable solutions. While the report focuses on protracted IDPs, it additionally serves to underline rather than divert attention from the multiple and shared challenges faced by all IDPs, including those more recently displaced. This report complements a forthcoming study on the situation of Muslims forcibly evicted from the Northern Province in 1990 undertaken by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre of the Norwegian Refugee Council.
There are different terms used to describe these three options. This report will use the terms used by Walter Kalin, former Representative of the UN Secretary General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, when he put forward the options for durable solutions in Sri Lanka (Kalin, W. (2008) “Finding Durable Solutions for Sri Lanka’s Displaced,” National Consultation on IDPs and Durable Solutions, September, Colombo, Sri Lanka. )
Chapter 1: Introduction
Since the end of the war in May 2009, Sri Lanka’s transition from conflict to sustainable peace continues to face multiple challenges. Key amongst these is finding durable solutions for the hundreds of thousands of IDPs and refugees. Sri Lanka’s thirty-year civil war unleashed many waves of displacement and many IDPs have experienced multiple displacement.3 There have also been episodes of mass return, usually during interludes of peace or when territory changed hands. The final phase of the war (2006-09) saw a significant escalation of violence and human rights violations against IDPs and other civilians, creating new waves of displacement and compounding the problems of those displaced and attempting to find solutions. The post-war period has provided an opportunity to comprehensively address displacement and has seen the return of over 480,0004 persons to their homes and communities, with varying levels of assistance from the Government, international humanitarian agencies and national actors. On 26 September 2012, the Government announced the closure of Menik Farm, noting “[t]he Government's expedited ‘resettlement’ programme has been successfully concluded.”5 However, many, including the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of IDPs, contest this position.6 The Government itself has occasionally adopted more nuanced positions, at least in international fora.7 According to the UNHCR, as of December 2012, there were 94,447 persons still living in displacement in Sri Lanka, of which 75,8988 or 81%, were ‘Old IDPs’ (displaced prior to April 20089). They are part of the protracted IDP population i.e. for whom the process of finding meaningful settlement options in the form of return, relocation or local integration and durable solutions is effectively stalled. While ‘Old IDPs’ is often used in Sri Lanka to refer to protracted IDPs, this is not without its complications and this report does not use them interchangeably but counts ‘Old IDPs’ amongst protracted IDPs. In addition to IDPs, many refugees from Sri Lanka also face protracted displacement, the largest number of whom, 104,121,10 are in India.11 However, since this report focuses on IDPs, the latter are beyond its scope. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
IDMC, 2012. Sri Lanka: A hidden displacement crisis, 31 October, Geneva: IDMC ; IDMC & NRC, 2011. Sri Lanka: IDPs and returnees remain in need of protection and assistance, 14 January, Geneva: IDMC. 4 IDMC, 2012. Sri Lanka: A hidden displacement crisis, 31 October, Geneva: IDMC. 5 Ministry of Defence,2012. Resettlement Completed - A milestone reached by the Government of Sri Lanka. Colombo: Ministry of Defence 6 UN (United Nations), 2012 Press Conference by Special Rapporteur on Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, 24 October 2012,New York: UN. Available at http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs/2012/121024_IDP.doc.htm . 7 Statement by Hon. Mahinda Samarasinghe, Minister of Plantation and Industries and Special Envoy of H.E the President of Sri Lanka on Human Rights, 01 November 2012. Available at http://www.lankamission.org/images/2012images/November2012/National%20Statement%20in%20PDF.pdf 8 The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has compiled figures obtained largely from Government officials of the respective district secretariats. 9 See Chapter 2 for a more detailed discussion. 10 Fonseka, B. and Raheem, M., 2011. Land in the Northern Province, Post-War Politics, Policy and Practices, CPA (Centre for Policy Alternatives), pg. 69. 11 According to UNHCR, around 1,260 Sri Lankan refugees returned from India in 2012; 1,670 in 2011 and 2,040 in 2010. (More than 1200 Lankan Tamil Refugees Return from India. Daily Mirror, 14 January 2013.)
Displacement has affected all ethnic communities in Sri Lanka but most IDPs are from the North and the East of the country. Moreover, IDPs from the North and East have also been particularly prone to multiple and prolonged displacement. However other areas of the country, including ‘border’ districts such as Anuradhapura, were also affected by the conflict and have experienced displacement of communities.
1.2 Protracted Displacement and its Impacts
! At any given time, a majority of the IDPs12 and a sizeable proportion of the refugees13 throughout the world have been displaced for a prolonged period of time with few prospects of significant improvement in their situation in the near future, situations described as protracted displacement. However, it is only recently that the issue has received specific attention,14 including efforts to arrive at a universally accepted definition of this phenomenon. This report draws on the widely accepted definition agreed upon by participants of the Global Expert Seminar on IDPs in Protracted Situations in 200715 that defines protracted IDPs as those: • • For whom the process for finding durable solutions is stalled; and/or Who are marginalised as a consequence of violations or a lack of protection of human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights.16
Although it is difficult to prescribe an exact timeline to determine when displacement becomes protracted, it is critical to recognise that a key indicator in differentiating cases of protracted displacement is the element of meaningful and sustainable settlement solutions (durable solutions) being ‘stalled’, i.e. when IDPs experience no progress towards durable solutions.17 This report draws substantially on this aspect of the definition. In doing so it also takes cognisance of the limitations of categorising IDPs based purely on length of the period of displacement in the Sri Lankan context (discussed further in Chapter2).18
Wright, N., Welcome and Introduction, 2007 Expert Seminar on Protracted IDP Situations hosted by UNHCR and the BrookingsBern Project on Internal Displacement, pg. 1. 13 Refugees from protracted displacement situations include those from Afghanistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Columbia and the Democratic Republic of Congo among others (For an extended list see Seminar Report, 2007 Expert Seminar on Protracted IDP Situations hosted by UNHCR and the Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement, June 2007, pgs. 25-6) 14 Ferris,E., 2007. Presentation: Humanitarian Reform: Responding to IDP Situations in non-cluster Countries, 2007 UNHCR-NGO Consultations; Seminar Report, 2007. Expert Seminar on Protracted IDP Situations hosted by UNHCR and the Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement. June, pg. 6 15 The Seminar, which was the first of two expert seminars held on Protracted Displacement in recent years, was hosted jointly by the UNHCR and the Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement and held in Geneva on June 21-22, 2007. 16 Seminar Report,2007. Expert Seminar on Protracted IDP Situations hosted jointly by the UNHCR and the Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement. 21-22 June, Geneva. 17 That no duration of time is specified in the definition provides greater freedom for contextual application and understanding. 18 The second aspect of the definition - marginalisation of IDPs due to violations of human rights is far less of a defining characteristic in Sri Lanka (and perhaps elsewhere), as it is possible for recently displaced persons or even the rest of the population to be systematically marginalised. Hence the definition’s use of ‘or’ rather than ‘and’ only in terms of the two criteria is problematic. A re-worked definition should address duration and the stalling of durable solutions to distinguish them from the nonprotracted.
While the negative impacts of displacement on individuals, families, and communities are well documented,19 the specific impacts of protracted displacement do merit greater attention. A World Bank study in Europe and Central Asia found that persons displaced for more than 10 years suffered higher levels of poverty and unemployment and had lesser access to land than non-displaced populations and as such were more vulnerable.20 Prolonged deprivation and limited access to essential services can increase vulnerabilities and have long-term adverse impacts on socio-economic security. This is especially true of more vulnerable sections such as the elderly without family, female-headed households and those who are in extreme poverty. In addition to certain types of long-term assistance fostering dependency, prolonged stays in welfare camps can also have significant adverse socio-economic and psychosocial effects.21 In addition, those born and raised while the family or community is displaced may face (and present) distinct social and economic challenges. In addition, protracted IDPs may face discrimination from the authorities and wider society, or even hostility from host communities, particularly in relation to scarce resources. Often protracted IDPs have little choice but to develop strategies to cope with life in displacement. This however, leaves them vulnerable to receiving even less attention and support as their coping strategies may be perceived as indicators of having already found durable solutions. Despite evidence of their vulnerability, protracted IDPs may thus not receive the attention they merit, particularly in a post-war context where humanitarian assistance and donor interest is on the wane and priorities of policy makers are shifting.22 In situations where humanitarian agencies and donors do provide a substantive proportion of assistance to all IDPs, their sudden departure leaves protracted IDPs particularly vulnerable. A government dealing with multiple issues simultaneously may choose to move swiftly from focusing on displacement and post-war problems to the larger challenge of development, leaving protracted IDPs marginalised and facing even greater challenges in securing assistance. Nonetheless, as underlined in the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, the primary responsibility for IDPs lies with governments and this includes ensuring that all IDPs, including protracted IDPs, have access to the assistance and services they need to achieve durable solutions. The causes of protracted displacement are always context specific and while most often precipitated by conflicts, there are instances of protracted displacement due to natural
NRC (National Research council), 2010. Protracted Muslim IDPs from Jaffna in Puttalam and their Right to Choose a Durable Solution. Colombo: NRC; IDMC, 2012. Sri Lanka: A hidden displacement crisis. 31 October, Geneva; Final Report of the Citizens’ Commission on the Expulsion of Muslims from the Northern Province by the LTTE in October 1990, 2011.The Quest for Redemption: The Story of the Northern Muslims. 03 November Colombo.; UTHR(J), Special Report no:26, 2007. Can the East be won through Human Culling?: Special Economic Zones – An Ideological Journey Back to 1983. 03 August; HRW (Human Rights Watch), 2008. Besieged, Displaced, and Detained-The Plight of Civilians in Sri Lanka’s Vanni Region. 23 December. 20 Holtzman, Steven B., Nezam, Taies. Living in Limbo: Conflict Induced Displacement in Europe and Central Asia. World Bank, June 2004 21 NRC, 2010. Protracted Muslim IDPs from Jaffna in Puttalam and their Right to Choose a Durable Solution. June.; Final Report of the Citizens’ Commission on the Expulsion of Muslims from the Northern Province by the LTTE in October 1990, 2011. The Quest for Redemption: The Story of the Northern Muslims. 03 November. 22 IDMC, 2012. Sri Lanka: A hidden displacement crisis. 31 October. See also Inter-Action Briefing Paper, ‘Sri Lanka: Transitioning from a Humanitarian Crisis to a Human Rights Crisis’, January 2013.
disasters or development-induced displacement.23 However, the Expert Seminar identified two broad causal scenarios for protracted internal displacement: • • Continuing armed conflict situations Situations where conflicts are ‘frozen’ or ‘over’ and yet solutions to address displacement are still lacking.24
Given that the war ended in mid-2009, the situation in Sri Lanka resembles the second scenario but is still very much a post-war rather than a post-conflict context. This is primarily due to the fact that the key causes for the war and the underlying ethnic conflict remain unresolved with little substantive movement in key areas such as determining a political solution and reconciliation.25 The Government and the humanitarian community in Sri Lanka have engaged in a series of projects and programmes to address displacement in the country and there are signs of improvement. However, there are still many families living in displacement and many IDPs require significant levels of further assistance to achieve durable solutions.
1.3 Ending Displacement and Finding Durable Solutions
Assessing when displacement has ended is a difficult challenge in both conceptual and practical terms. The UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement stipulate, “displacement should last no longer than required by circumstances.”26 According to the Framework on Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons (the Framework), endorsed by the IASC Working Group, the process of ending displacement requires that the displaced find a durable solution. The three primary means of achieving durable solutions, as laid out in the Framework are: a) Sustainable reintegration at the place of origin [return] b) Sustainable local integration in areas where IDPs take refuge [local integration] c) Sustainable integration in another part of the country [relocation].27 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
For instance in Sri Lanka there are assertions that there are a number of persons displaced by the tsunami who have not found durable solutions, including in Ampara and Colombo districts. (Eastern Tsunami survivors victimised by authorities’ indifference. Daily Mirror, 26 December 2012; Tsunami displaced families still in temporary houses. Daily Mirror, 24 March 2012). 24 Seminar Report, 2007. Expert Seminar on Protracted IDP Situations hosted by UNHCR and the Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement, June 2007, pgs. 26-27. 25 CPA, 2012. Short-Term Benchmarks for Peace and Reconciliation in Post-War Sri Lanka. 30 May 2012; Asia Report N°239, ICG, 2012. Sri Lanka: Tamil Politics and the Quest for a Political Solution. 20 November ; Asia Report N°220, ICG, 2012. Sri Lanka’s North II: Rebuilding under the Military. 16 March ; Asia Report N°209, ICG, 2011. Reconciliation in Sri Lanka: Harder than Ever. 18 July; TNA slams Government on accountability, PTA and reconciliation, Tamil Guardian, 13 September 2011. 26 UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), 2004. Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement http://www.unhcr.org/43ce1cff2.html 27 ‘Resettlement’ in Sri Lanka is most often used to mean ‘return’, while the term commonly used to describe integration in another part of the country, i.e. not the place of origin or refuge, is referred to as ‘relocation’. In order to avoid confusion this report avoids use of the term ‘resettlement’, unless it is in the context of a statement or claim made by a member of Government or a humanitarian actor. Instead the term ‘return’ will be used for option one and the term ‘relocation’ for option three. (IASC Framework for Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons, Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC), The Brookings Institution University of Bern Project on Internal Displacement, April 2010, pg. 5)
The Framework recognises that IDPs may continue to face challenges and have specific protection and assistance needs related to their displacement even after return, local integration or relocation.28 The Framework responds to the ground reality that displacement does not “generally end abruptly. Rather, ending displacement is a process through which the need for specialised assistance and protection diminishes”29 and IDPs “no longer have any specific assistance and protection needs that are linked to their displacement.”30 In other words, their needs for development, protection, and assistance “would be no different from other similarly situated citizens.”31 Realising this calls for “a complex process that addresses human rights, humanitarian, development, reconstruction and peace-building challenges” and the involvement of multiple actors.32 The Framework offers benchmarks for assessing whether communities affected by displacement have been able to find a durable solution. Given the difficulty in assessing whether displacement has ended, the Framework is a significant tool to respond to the range of cross-cutting issues surrounding displacement from humanitarian assistance to early recovery to development. In addition to five process related standards,33 the Framework also sets out the following eight criteria to decide whether and to what extent a durable solution has been achieved: Long-term safety, security and freedom of movement; An adequate standard of living, including at a minimum access to adequate food, water, housing, health care and basic education; • Access to employment and livelihoods; • Access to effective mechanisms to restore or compensate for loss or damage to housing, land and property; • Access to and replacement of personal and other documentation; • Voluntary reunification with family members separated during displacement; • Participation in public affairs at all levels on an equal basis with the resident population; • Effective remedies for displacement-related violations, including access to justice, reparations and information about the causes of violations. The Framework provides a useful set of standards to assess whether IDPs have been able to find sustainable solutions and should serve as the minimum standards to assess measures taken to assist IDPs.34 However, while some of the criteria such as voluntary family reunification can be relatively easily verified, others such as whether an adequate standard of living has been !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! • •
IASC Framework for Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons, Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC), The Brookings Institution University of Bern Project on Internal Displacement, April 2010. 29 The Brookings Institution University of Bern Project on Internal Displacement, 2007. When Development Ends, A Framework for Durable Solutions. June, pg. 9 30 IASC Framework for Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons, Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC), The Brookings Institution University of Bern Project on Internal Displacement, April 2010, page 5 31 The Brookings Institution University of Bern Project on Internal Displacement, 2007. When Development Ends, A Framework for Durable Solutions. June, pg. 8 32 Quick Reference Guide, IASC Framework for Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons, Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC), The Brookings Institution University of Bern Project on Internal Displacement, April 2010 33 These five standards are a) IDPs are able to make an informed decision as to their options b) all IDPs, including those marginalised and without representation, participate in the decision-making regarding these choices c) arrangements need to be made where possible for IDPs to visit the location and assess conditions of the locations d) no coercion used to force IDPs to choose any of the options e) national authorities and where appropriate the international community take steps to establish conditions and the means for return, local integration or ‘resettlement’. 34 As the Handbook for the Protection of Internally Displaced Persons points out “The Framework suggests the analysis of both the process through which a solution needs to be pursued and the actual conditions that need to be fulfilled with respect to the individuals or groups who have returned to their area of origin, or settled elsewhere in the country” (Handbook for the Protection of Internally Displaced Persons, Global Protection Cluster Working Group, December 2007).
achieved or access to justice has been realised are more difficult to determine. In reality therefore, gauging whether IDPs have achieved preferred, voluntary and durable solutions is no simple task and takes time. It is also important to consider the criteria from the perspective of particular IDP populations not only because the extent to which it reflects the full gamut of their particular concerns may vary from one population to another but also because the complex choices that IDPs are often forced to make (discussed further in Chapter 4) may not always correspond to the settlement options that are constructed within the Framework, even though it does attempt to grapple with ground realities. For instance the Framework makes clear that opting for local integration or settlement elsewhere does not amount to renouncing return in case that option becomes available later which is an important principle. However, in other instances where return is not successful, for example in situations of secondary occupations where the land is not released over time, returnees may have to look at other settlement options. A deeper understanding of protracted displacement and how best to secure durable solutions for protracted IDPs is central not only to resolving the crisis of internal displacement but also important in moving towards a meaningful, just and sustainable peace in Sri Lanka. A standard approach that does not account for specificities of displaced communities and the particular impacts of protracted displacement is likely to be counter-productive. For instance, protracted IDPs may be wary of immediate return/relocation, especially in the face of socio-economic and security uncertainties at places of origin. It needs to be recognised that there may be displaced persons who are not officially recognised as IDPs and others who may have de-registered or been prematurely de-registered by the Government.35 Shared concerns such as the needs for recognition, access to justice, basic needs and livelihoods, psychosocial support, security, and development infrastructure, must also be recognised. In order to effectively address the problem of displacement, it demands an understanding of the context, the complex experiences of IDPs, the nature of continuing displacement and the situation of those deemed to have found a solution to their displacement through return, local integration or relocation.
Populations might not have official recognition for a variety of reasons including; but not limited to, not registering as IDPs for security concerns or due to perceptions of being stigmatised, or having de-registered a few years after registering as an IDP in order to access services due to local residents through registering as a resident of the area of displacement.
Chapter 2: Protracted Displacement in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has numerous IDP communities, some of them displaced for over twenty years by the war as well as others displaced even prior to the war, such as Up-Country Tamils who sought refuge in the North during the communal violence in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Thus, displacement, for many, was not a one-time experience as many were re-displaced, sometimes multiple times. Four years after the war there remain serious gaps in information and data regarding numbers of IDPs. Official statistics are critical as it signifies state recognition of a population and for IDPs not being counted implies invisibility and a lack of recognition in addition to a denial of their experience and the specific challenges they face. Generally a person is officially recognised as an IDP in Sri Lanka when registered as such by the Government.36 Such official recognition is vital for IDPs to access national and international humanitarian assistance and is also necessary for national and international NGOs to be allowed to work with them. Non-recognition creates obstacles for IDPs in securing rights and services in places of refuge as well as of origin, should they return. However, certain forms of recognition can also create certain obstacles and be exclusionary, such as the categorisation of IDPs into ‘Old’ and ‘New’. This chapter examines protracted displacement in Sri Lanka with respect to concerns around registration, recognition and categorisation. Deregistration or removal of the IDP status of families is carried out by local authorities and is predominantly based on whether the family’s place of origin is ‘open’ for return. It is not based on an assessment of whether there are any obstacles to return or whether the family has further assistance needs, let alone whether durable solutions have been otherwise achieved. Consequently, there are a large number of families who are no longer officially IDPs but continue to live in displacement. The de-registration of entire communities as IDPs has resulted in their loss of access to assistance including food rations, and rendered it difficult for international humanitarian agencies to work with them. It is important to note though that registration of return is for the most part effected by IDPs themselves who de-register themselves as IDPs and register themselves as returnees but it cannot be used as an accurate reflection of those who have actually returned because registration of return does not always imply actual physical return. As discussed further, such registration may be prompted by a number of considerations including fear over loss of land and property rights, qualifying for the limited humanitarian or development assistance, preserving voting rights, and other considerations discussed in detail further below.
2.1 Protracted IDP populations and numbers
The term ‘protracted displacement’ is not commonly used in Sri Lanka, the preferred term being ‘Old IDPs’, which however, is problematic and limiting. Any discussion on protracted displacement in Sri Lanka must account for the dynamics underlying this categorisation into ‘Old’ and ‘‘New IDPs’’ because it has had significant implications in terms of policy objectives and actual outcomes for IDPs. Moreover, the definition itself has shifted over time in response !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is undertaken by a local official such as a Grama Sevaka who in turn reports it to the Divisional Secretary for collation of information at the district level
to the various stages of the conflict. The term ‘Old IDPs’ has been in use at least since the recommencement of large-scale hostilities in 2006-7, when it referred to those displaced before the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement.37 In 2008, a re-classification took place where the majority of persons displaced prior to April 2008 were categorised as ‘Old IDPs’ and those displaced in the Vanni post-April 2008 and those held in closed ‘welfare centres’ or camps by the Government were identified as ‘New IDPs’. Many found this categorisation useful at the time because it helped distinguish between those held in closed IDP camps facing particular assistance and protection needs including severely restricted freedom of movement (‘New IDPs’), and other IDPs displaced earlier and often for longer periods, but not confined. However, contrary to the obvious temporal emphasis in ‘Old’ and ‘New’, neither the Government nor humanitarian actors have actually established a clear time duration for displacement to be defined as ‘Old’ or ‘New’. As discussed further, this categorisation is misleading because some of the ‘Old IDPs’ were in fact displaced relatively recently, while some of the ‘New IDPs’ were actually previously displaced persons displaced again from their place of refuge in the final stages of the war. There are no official Government statistics on protracted displacement. While there is data on ‘Old IDPs’ who form the bulk of the protracted IDP population, it is limited not only in terms of the numbers and the locations of protracted IDPs but also whether all caseloads of protracted IDPs are accounted for. The data is therefore far from comprehensive and contains no information regarding access to durable solutions and levels of assistance required for return, local integration or relocation. While some relevant data is available at the district and local government levels, it is not always up to date or systematic, as demonstrated, for example, with the lack of benchmarks by which to define when displacement and related assistance can be considered to have ended and de-registration as IDPs warranted. Moreover, government officials and local authorities are increasingly hesitant to share any information that they do possess.38 According to the figures collated by UNHCR, as of December 2012 there were 75,898 ‘Old IDPs’ in the country with 212,094 ‘Old IDPs’ registered as having returned since April 2009.39 These statistics are more an approximate rather than an exact figure but at least they offer a reasonable baseline. It is important to note that the figures only represent those registered as IDPs or returnees by the local authorities; humanitarian actors and IDPs themselves have often contested the criteria used to de-register persons as IDPs.40 While this report uses the figure of ‘Old IDPs’ collated by UNHCR, these cannot be considered as the total figure of protracted IDPs for reasons detailed below.41
The Ceasefire Agreement was signed by the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in February 2002. In May 2006 the IDP population numbered 325,000 (The Global Report 2005, UNHCR, 30 June 2006, http://www.unhcr.org/4492676e0.html) 38 See pgs. 21-22 39 The UNHCR statistics included figures for displaced from outside the district of the North and East, Puttalam and Anurdhapura (10,600) for which they have not been able to obtain updates from the Government for the past two years. 40 Conversely there are also likely to be persons included in these statistics who have achieved a durable solution in their place of displacement or elsewhere and who would like to be registered as permanent residents and no longer can be classified as IDPs. Furthermore, it is not clear whether some displaced registered themselves as IDPs or de-registered early on hence may not be reflected in official statistics. 41 See pgs. 22- 27
The map on the preceding page reflects major concentrations of protracted IDPs but as elaborated below their profiles differ significantly and their concentration merits closer examination: • Puttalam: The vast majority of IDPs were Muslims forcibly expelled by the LTTE from the five districts of the North in October 1990. This population numbered approximately 86,000 in May 2009.42 While many attempted to return over the years, a majority continued to live in displacement, mostly in 141 welfare centres in Puttalam and with host families.43 As of March 2011, there were 12,965 registered IDPs in Puttalam.44 Jaffna: The vast majority of IDPs in Jaffna are a result of military occupation of lands. Approximately 18% of the Jaffna Peninsula45 has been maintained as High Security Zones (HSZ) by successive governments,46 effectively preventing the return of at least 60,000 persons to these areas.47 While the release of some areas has allowed some IDPs to return, as of November 2012 there were 33,806 registered IDPs in Jaffna living largely with host families. The recent efforts by the Government to acquire land in Tellipallai suggests that return may not be possible for over 6,300 families (over 22,000 people).48 Trincomalee: Due to the occupation of lands in Sampur, first as a high security zone and then as a special economic zone, four Grama Niladhari (GN) divisions were completely off limits for civilians, resulting in the continued displacement of 4,085 persons.49 A further approximately 320 persons cannot return to their village in Karamalaiuttru, Muttur Division due to military occupation of their village.50 Batticaloa: Officially there are no IDPs in the district but CPA identified pockets of IDPs who have not found durable solutions, including Muslims from western and northern Batticaloa, Vanni returnees living with host families and families displaced due to military occupation.51 Ampara: As of December 2012 there were 2,300 IDPs registered in the district. This includes IDPs from Kanjikudichcharu—nearly 1,000 families displaced from Thangavelauthapuram and Kanjikudichcharu Villages in Tirukovil Division unable to return reportedly due to unexploded ordnance (UXOs).52
UNHCR,2012. Global Overview 2011: People internally displaced by conflict and violence - Sri Lanka. 19 April; Final Report of the Citizens’ Commission on the Expulsion of Muslims from the Northern Province by the LTTE in October 1990, 2011. The Quest for Redemption: The Story of the Northern Muslims. 03 November. The December 2009 newsletter of the Ministry of Resettlement puts the figure of ‘Old IDPs’ at 76,596 43 Following the end of the war, a significant number registered as returnees, but not all of these persons shifted permanently to return areas. In April 2010 the Government cut rations for this caseload and subsequently announced the closure of the SNDM. Local authorities in Puttalam estimate that by mid-2012 only about 25% of the IDPs had returned to their places of origin and were living there, a further 10-20% had locally integrated and registered as permanent residents in Puttalam. The remaining 55-65% are registered in their places of origin but are living in Puttalam or living between the two locations. (IDMC, 2012. Sri Lanka: A hidden displacement crisis, 31 October, Geneva: IDMC. http://www.internal-displacement.org) 44 Government figures compiled by UNHCR, December 31 2012 45 CPA, Inform, Fact Finding Mission to Jaffna, March 2008 46 In March 2011 a spokesman for the Security Forces Headquarters, Jaffna claimed that there are no more High Security Zones in Jaffna town. (No more HSZs in Jaffna, Daily News, 21 March 2011.) 47 Some of this population is no longer in Jaffna, living either in other parts of Sri Lanka or abroad, while the majority of persons in the district live with host families, welfare centres or in rented properties. (See also Sri Lanka: North East Joint Humanitarian Update #28,UN OCHA, 8 October 2010.) 48 Ministry of Resettlement Sri Lanka, “IDP's to be resettled as at 08.07.2013”, http://www.resettlementmin.gov.lk/idps-statistics ; estimates by others place the figure as high as 35,000 persons. See Sri Lanka, Parliamentary Debates 2013, 8 August, Vol 219No 3, p 326. 49 Fonseka, B. and Raheem, M., 2009. Trincomalee High Security Zone and Special Economic Zone, CPA, September. 50 Interview with community leaders from Trincomalee, April 2012 51 In Some 56 unregistered IDP families living in Perriyavelli are from two villages, 6th Mile Post and Tharavai in Kiran Division, Batticaloa District, and are unable to return due to the establishment of an ‘unofficial HSZ.’ Fonseka, B. and Raheem, M., 2010. Land in the Eastern Province Politics, Policy and Conﬂict, CPA, May) 52 Interview with officials at Tirukovil DS Secretariat, August 2011
• • •
Vavuniya: At least 8,213 ‘Old IDPs’ are registered in Vavuniya, including 911 living in former IDP camps, which are no longer recognised by the authorities.53 Mannar: At least 556 ‘Old IDPs’ remain registered in Mannar.54 Anuradhapura: There are over 3,360 registered IDPs within the district, the bulk of whom are from former border villages.
It is important to stress that this list is by no means comprehensive and covers only some of the ‘Old IDP’ populations in the country. As highlighted in the next section, there could also be a number of ‘hidden’ protracted IDP populations. It should also be noted that there are some ‘New IDP’ populations who are in fact at risk of ending up in situations of protracted displacement unless the obstacles preventing them from achieving a durable solution are quickly addressed. Arguably, the situation of some of these IDPs is such that they could already be included in the protracted IDP category, especially given that it is four years since the end of the war. Some such potentially protracted IDP communities include: • • Displacement due to military occupation: Roughly 3,600 ‘New IDPs’ in the North who cannot return due to military occupation of their lands/villages.55 ‘Returnees’ living in transit situations: Some IDPs have been officially resettled but in fact continue to live in transit situations as they cannot return to their places of origin due to the presence of UXOs or secondary occupation. These IDPs are living close to or in areas neighbouring their places of origin but in a situation that amounts to continued displacement. Displaced persons living with host families: It is estimated that there were some 103,000 IDPs who are living with host families but have not opted to return despite their areas of origin being open for return owing to security concerns, limited facilities in areas of return, better access to services in current locations, etc.56
2.2 Hidden protracted displacement
One of the major challenges in the Sri Lankan context is that protracted displacement is sometimes hidden. The reasons for this range from possible lack of recognition of second generation IDPs to whole communities not being counted as IDPs despite the fact that they have not achieved a durable solution. The causes for this vary, including a lack of awareness or interest amongst government actors on the protracted IDP issue, concerns amongst IDPs regarding the consequences of registration or de-registration and a failure of humanitarian agencies and civil society groups to understand the complex choices that IDPs make in terms !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Statistics collected by UNHCR from community leaders, December 2012 IDMC,2012. Sri Lanka: A hidden displacement crisis. 31 October. 55 In the post-war context the military earmarked some areas for their exclusive use; the IDPs from these areas are living with host families, welfare centres or in ‘transit situations’ often near their villages of origin. Examples include IDPs from Mullikulam, Mannar; Silavathurai, Mannar; and Keppapalivu, Mullaitivu. In some cases they have even turned down offers of relocation. This figure is an estimation of each of the locations listed in the following footnote based on information collected from civil society actors. (IDMC & NRC, 2011. Sri Lanka: IDPs and returnees remain in need of protection and assistance. 14 January.) 56 IDMC, 2012. Sri Lanka: A hidden displacement crisis. 31 October. IDMC estimated this figure has reduced to 82,000 in their January update. See IDMC . Sri Lanka- Country page; Number of IDPs in Sri Lanka. Available at http://www.internaldisplacement.org/idmc/website/countries.nsf/%28httpEnvelopes%29/D19BC2605A15FBF2C1257816004B8C9D?OpenDocumen t
of finding durable solutions. The registration and recognition of protracted IDPs is influenced by a number of factors and has significant consequences for IDPs as the following case study of Muslims from Western and Northern Batticaloa illustrates. The struggle to be counted: Muslim IDPs in Batticaloa The commonly held conception among government actors and even some humanitarian agencies is that there is no longer any displacement in Batticaloa. This was also the official position of staff in the Batticaloa District Secretariat and Divisional offices during the period of CPA fieldwork in November and December 2012. However, some officials did admit that there were IDPs within the district and acknowledged the gap in official data. According to one Divisional Secretary (DS), “The Government strictly instructed us to close files of IDPs after 2009. Actually it’s a critical situation. Officially we couldn’t assist them as IDPs because we had to wind up all IDP projects in our division.”57 Interviews with government officials, civil society leaders and communities revealed pockets of IDPs, including Muslims displaced from western and northern Batticaloa.58 While some of these Muslim families have returned or are attempting to return to their places of origin, others remain in their places of refuge and have yet to find a durable solution.59 The net effect is that there is a problem in identifying the status of these persons and a lack of official acknowledgment, let alone any understanding of their needs.60 It is difficult to account for this lacuna in statistics and official record keeping, despite the existence of multiple institutions all mandated to work on the IDP issue61 and the numerous registration processes undertaken by the State.62 In these areas of return in Batticaloa, unregistered or de-registered IDPs are considered neither as IDPs nor as residents in their place of origin as they lack documentation (such as voter registration or annual land permits, for example) and are deemed to have registered as residents elsewhere, most often in areas where they were living during the period of the war. This lack of recognition in administrative terms poses serious problems, for instance, in villages such as Poththaanai Anaikattu, only 37 of 110 families originally displaced are registered as residents.63 Not being recognised has a significant impact as it becomes difficult to secure any assistance and access resources, including the provision of state land through permits and grants. At the same time, IDPs may also not be recognised as such in their places of refuge. As one DS officer from a Batticaloa division where Muslims took refuge and may have since chosen to locally integrate noted: “Officially there are no IDPs from 2009. We count them as landless people.”64 Finally, some IDPs also claimed that problems associated with their registration as returnees are due to Tamil government officials at the division level in areas of return being !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Interview with official in DS office, Batticaloa, November 2012 Some Government officials were able to identify specific caseloads of IDPs within Batticaloa district. They mentioned ‘New’ IDP families (from the Vanni but originally from Batticaloa) who were registered as returnees in 2010 and 2011 but are still living with friends and relatives, and other populations from specific locations such as 19 families from Punnani East living outside the division who had to be settled. There could be other cases of hidden or unregistered displacement, including Sinhalese who lived in particular areas of the district including Batticaloa Town. (Interview with official in DS office, Batticaloa, November 2012) 59 See pgs. 43-44. 60 “[There is a] huge amount of ‘Old IDPs’ inside our division [Koralaipattu (West) DS division]. Only few of them registered here.”(Interview with official in DS office, Batticaloa, November 2012) 61 This includes the Ministry for Resettlement (the primary line ministry), Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights, The Presidential Task Force for the Northern Province, the IDP Unit of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka and the Secretariat for Northern Muslims. 62 Given that state actors, including Grama Sevakas, the police and the military carried out registrations of residents in multiple places it can be assumed that the information was available. At the district level the statistics are available as the divisional secretaries continued to collate statistics on the displaced. These same structures could have been used to verify these statistics and to provide a breakdown of IDPs based on origin and location of displacement. 63 Apparently this is due to the fact that these 37 families were those who returned after the ethnic violence from 1985-7. Other families were wary of returning and even though they attempted to return in later periods e.g. following the 2001 CFA, they were not allowed to reclaim all their land and were only allowed to do cultivation and could not register. (Interview with male returnee, Poththaanai Anaikkatu, November 2012) 64 Interview with official in DS office, Batticaloa, November 2012
uncooperative or even hostile to Muslim returnees. Some of the Muslim IDPs continue to refer to themselves as displaced and desiring to return, while having voluntarily registered elsewhere as residents thereby renouncing their official government IDP status. Navigating this conundrum in order to develop practical responses can thus become quite complicated. From the perspective of the IDPs however, this is a fair position because in order to cope with their situation of displacement and have equal access to government services in their area of refuge they were required to register as residents there while still desiring return. Nonetheless, official records leave little room to record such complex lived realities. This was an issue raised by IDPs from villages such as Rugam and Poththaanai Anaikattu now living in areas such as Ottamavadi and Saddam Hussein village. Hence, identifying whether families remain in displacement or have in fact locally integrated is not an easy task. Local integration may be a survival strategy for many protracted IDPs through the construction of permanent shelter, admission of their children into local schools and registration as residents to ensure access to government services. However, their preferred voluntary durable solution may still be to return to their areas of origin. This seems to be the case of the Muslims IDPs from western and northern Batticaloa, who have been displaced multiple times in some cases. Unlike many of the Tamil IDPs, Muslim IDPs tended to move in with friends and relatives rather than moving into IDP camps.65 Many of the families had at various points over the last two decades, including as early as 1992, registered as local residents in their places of displacement, including in Ottamavadi and Eravur. It was suggested by one Muslim community activist that their registration as residents and subsequent de-registration as IDPs was also related to their ‘dignity’.66 It may also be due to practical requirements during displacement such as securing assistance from the State to persons registered as residents in an area. It is difficult to ascertain whether they fully understood the implications of de-registering as IDPs. Despite being registered as local residents, a number of them continue to insist that they are displaced and want to return to their place of origin and claim that they are in fact attempting to return. It is important to acknowledge their experience of displacement, their rights and their choices.
As pointed out in the case above, there are a number of possible reasons for hidden populations of displaced. However, even recognised IDP populations may be rendered invisible due to the arbitrary process of automatically de-recognising IDPs from areas that have been released. Assuming the return or local integration of these IDPs without assessing whether they have found a durable solution enables the Government to divest itself of some of its responsibilities towards them. For instance, assuming their return, over the last three years the Government has closed down 11 camps for ‘Old IDPs’ from areas within the Tellipallai HSZ that have been released but has done little by way of ensuring durable solutions. This has left many IDP families without critical assistance in either their place of refuge or origin. It is !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Interview with community leaders from displaced communities of Rugam and Pothanai Kerni, November 2012 This Muslim community activist insisted that there was a critical difference in terms of the pattern of displacement between Muslims and Tamils in the East – while the latter were more willing to move to displacement camps and be registered as IDPs, the former preferred to move in with relatives. This activist cited “dignity” as a critical factor for the Muslim displaced not wanting to register. (Interview with community activist, Ottamavadi, November 2012)
estimated by one humanitarian agency that as many 4,000 persons may be in such a situation, of whom 1,000 are particularly vulnerable.67 The exact reasons as to why they have not returned vary, including landlessness, limited assistance for return, poverty and lack of opportunities in areas of return.68 At the least, de-recognition must be preceded by an attempt to assess the situation of those who do not return instead of leaving the burden of finding alternatives on IDPs themselves. Nonetheless, in the current context, the failure to systematically collect and verify data pertaining to displacement, including IDPs’ places of origin, their present status and preferred durable solutions, represents a lack of initiative and political will on the part of the Government. Furthermore, as noted above there were instructions from Colombo to local government officials to maintain the line that resettlement had been concluded and there were no more IDPs in the district. Despite the fact that they perhaps reflected ground realities better, during the war, statistics provided by District Secretariats did not always get referenced or were contested by the Central Government because IDP numbers were seen to be a critical indicator of the humanitarian crisis.69 This had multiple consequences including making the issue of IDP numbers highly controversial, resulting in government officials often denying the existence of IDPs, even while on the ground they were (and still are) forced to deal with displacement and return.70 In addition, the Government followed a policy of de-registering IDPs once it deemed that return was possible, assuming without assessment that if families had not chosen to return immediately they must have found an alternative durable solution and it was no longer responsible for them. In the post-war context as well, the Government’s emphasis has been on demonstrating minimal or no displacement, opting for blanket de-registration of IDPs populations without assessment of whether durable solutions have been found. For instance, Northern Muslim IDPs were de-registered in December 2010 and their rations were cut.71 As the following chapter shows however, this has proven highly problematic. Local humanitarian organisations, civil society actors and political leaders could have also played a more pro-active role in highlighting information gaps. Humanitarian actors also did not attempt to publish data and statistics on IDPs, despite knowing that the key sources of data available were local government officials. In 2009, UNHCR was unwilling to publicly put out any official statistics for the total population of ‘Old IDPs’. During this period, there are even specific instances of ‘Old IDP’ populations temporarily disappearing out of statistics such as in Jaffna in 2009, when the number of ‘Old IDPs’ was taken out of the total IDP statistics for the district provided by the UN for one month before they were put back on.72 While UNHCR did compile statistics of IDPs based on figures provided by government at the district level, they stopped
Interview with humanitarian agency worker in Jaffna, December 2012. Interviews with staff from two international humanitarian agencies, Jaffna, December 2012. 69 UN SG (United Nations Secretary General), 2011 Report of the Secretary-General's Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka. 31 March ; UN SG (United Nations Secretary General), 2012. Report of the Secretary-General's Internal Review Panel on United Nations action in Sri Lanka. November. 70 The apparent apprehension of referring to ‘Old IDPs’ while being aware of the problem has produced a form of schizophrenia. This is best seen in Tricomlaee where the District Secretary maintained that there no more IDPs in the district, which also meant that no humanitarian and development actors were able to officially raise funds for IDP work in the district. Simultaneously the District Secretary was also attempting to ensure that agencies were assisting Sinhala IDPs, including those from older caseloads. (Interview with humanitarian agencies in Trincomalee, April 2011 and March 2012). 71 IDMC,2012. Sri Lanka: A hidden displacement crisis. 31 October. p.12. 72 Interview with humanitarian worker based in Jaffna, February 2009.
providing these statistics as of December 2012 because it was increasingly difficult to obtain data from the local authorities.73
Interview with staff at UNHCR, Colombo, December 2012
Chapter 3: Responses of the Government and other Actors
This chapter examines the post-war response of the Government to protracted displacement. There is a perception of marginalisation amongst protracted IDP communities at the heart of which lies the distinction made between ‘Old’ and ‘New’ IDPs. Notwithstanding many significant changes in the post-war context, a national rights-based policy framework to deal with displacement continues to be elusive. Its absence, a long-standing concern, is reflective not only of the marginalisation of IDPs within policy but speaks also to the lack of a vibrant policy debate and the limited effectiveness of domestic political actors and civil society.
3.1 Discrimination against ‘Old IDPs’ in Policy
The level of devastation and mass displacement in the Vanni at the end of the war undoubtedly called for large-scale and immediate humanitarian action and prioritisation. However, the Government’s response obscured the need to address the many pressing and chronic concerns of those who came to be labelled ‘Old IDPs’. The lack of public information and reference to concerns of ‘Old IDPs’ eventually resulted in the differential treatment between ‘Old’ and ‘New’ IDPs being inscribed into the design, planning, funding and implementation of rehabilitation policies. The differential treatment in the post-war context has manifested itself in three main forms – the lack of reference to ‘Old IDPs’ in the policy agenda, delays in facilitating return of ‘Old IDPs’ and problems in securing resettlement assistance for ‘Old IDPs’. In its official statistics for IDPs in the months after the war, including in the policy document for the Three Year Investment Programme for the Northern Province, the Government used the figure of 270,023 for the number of IDPs in the country, which was essentially the number of ‘New IDPs’.74 It was this figure that was constantly referenced without mention of a larger population of IDPs, mostly protracted, that heightened concerns that the Government was ignoring ‘Old IDPs’.75 Given that this figure was used in meetings and discussions of the Presidential Task Force, the UN and humanitarian agencies after the war, ‘Old IDPs’ were not visible in the immediate post-war humanitarian agenda.76 Even as recently as May 2013, the Government claimed at the UN Human Rights Council that it had reintegrated all 295,873 IDPs resulting from the end of the conflict. However this number does not include all ‘Old IDPs’.77
Department of National Planning, Ministry of Finance and Planning,.Wadakkil Wasantham – Three Year Investment Programme for the Northern Province 2010- 2012, pg. 05; Raheem,M. Government focus on resettling ‘New IDPs’ resulting in ‘Old IDPs’ being overlooked, Transcurrents, 10 August 2010. 75 This omission was reflected in other post-war Government policies. The ‘180 Day Plan’ was the ‘resettlement’ program proposed by the Government of Sri Lanka to the Indian Government of ‘resettling’ some 80% of IDPs by the end of 2009 but there was no reference of the ‘Old IDPs’; see http://www.sangam.org/2009/11/Movement_IDPs.pdf 76 CPA participated in the Permanent Shelter/Housing meetings in 2009-2011. 77 Civil Society Collective, 2013. Response to the Statement Made by Minister Mahinda Samarasinge at the 22nd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. 28 February.
There was no official policy to ensure that ‘Old IDPs’ would be able to access the same basic ‘resettlement’ package available to ‘New IDPs’. For instance, during the final phase of the war, there were different food ration systems for ‘Old’ and ‘New’ IDPs; in the case of the former it was based on costs from the mid-1990s, while for the latter it was based on calorific content and funded by the World Food Programme (WFP). Hence, Muslim IDPs from the North and those displaced by the Jaffna HSZ were effectively receiving lower amounts of rations per family unit than the more recently displaced.78 While, with some exceptions, returnes from both groups are eligible to claim the WFP 6-month rations and transitional shelter equipment,79 the agreement reached between the Government of Sri Lanka and UNHCR on the provision of the Rs 25,000 shelter grant was that it would only be provided to ‘New IDPs’. Interviews conducted by CPA revealed that some ‘Old IDP’ returnees were able to access this assistance depending on the willingness of local government officers or the involvement of military or political actors. Even government officials acknowledged that assistance for ‘Old IDPs’ was limited. In at least one instance, an ‘Old IDP’ attempting to return to the North was reportedly advised by a government official to attempt to qualify as a ‘New IDP’ by de-registering at Menik Farm, as this would facilitate government support.80 The exclusion of ‘Old IDPs’ in the official ‘resettlement’ policy was also apparent on the ground throughout 2009 and into 2010. The first area to be opened for resettlement in the North in 2009 was Mussali, Southern Mannar, in April 2009. While the Government permitted and facilitated the return of those displaced from Mussali in September 2007, protracted IDPs (mostly Muslim) from the area were not allowed access unless they had Mussali listed in their ID cards as a place of residence.81 This approach to ‘resettlement’ that prioritised ‘New’ against ‘Old’ IDPs, with the latter having to negotiate permission and access was also seen elsewhere. ‘Old IDPs’ were offered very few ‘go-and-see visits’ or support for return, unless there were elections forthcoming. This policy was also observed in Batticaloa where, during the resettlement drives in late 2006 and early 2007, the Government focused on the return of the more recently displaced, while those displaced in previous decades, including Muslims originally from Northern and Western Batticaloa, found it difficult to secure assistance and sometimes even to obtain permission to return, as access to areas captured from the LTTE was restricted.82 In response, civil society groups working with Northern Muslims put out two successive statements calling for equal treatment of IDPs and even requested the Government to organise a phased resettlement.83 This policy of prioritising the return of ‘New IDPs’ had significant repercussions including creating confusion and concern among Northern Muslims as to official !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Even while there may have been a rationale for two separate systems of assistance, there was a clear need to upgrade the rations provided to the ‘Old IDPs’, especially given inflation over twenty years from when the costing was set. See also NRC,2010. Protracted Muslim IDPs from Jaffna in Puttalam and their Right to Choose a Durable Solution. June; CPA, 2003 Informal Dispute Resolution in the North East and Puttalam. 79 Fonseka. B, 2010. Commentary on Returns, Resettlement and Land Issues in the North of Sri Lanka, CPA, September. 80 Raheem,M., 2010.The End of Displacement in Sri Lanka. 10 August. 81 Historically, Mussali is the only Muslim majority division in the Northern Province and following the expulsion of 1990, the majority of the population were living in displacement, with only a fraction having returned by 2007. The division also has a Tamil population. 82 Thus it was left to local military officers and Government officials with the authority to decide and IDPs had to negotiate permission to do so. While at the GS level Government officials were willing to assist, returnees complained about lack of cooperation from senior levels such as the DS, including in dealing with issues relating to land. 83 ‘Civil Society Groups Call for Resettlement of All IDPs in Musali,’ May 4 2009; ‘Appeal To Make 2010 The Year of Return for Northern Expelled Muslims,’ January 22 2010
support for return. Moreover, in the Vanni where ‘New IDPs’ were resettled prior to Old, the latter found that beneficiary lists for assistance projects, particularly housing, had already been finalised prior to their return—delayed return therefore had significant consequences for accessing assistance. However the sense of being marginalised is also felt in other protracted IDP communities. For instance, Sinhala IDPs from Weli Oya/Manel Aru were vociferous and angry at their perceived marginalisation. They expressed resentment at other IDP communities and international and local NGOs. However they reserved their greatest hostility towards the Government, not only because it used them as a line of defence against the LTTE during the war only to neglect them post-war but also because Sinhalese from elsewhere were being settled in Weli Oya/Manel Aru with whom they now have to compete for assistance and other resources.84 These perceptions of bias and selective assistance operate both at inter- and intra-community levels. For instance, among some Tamils there is a perception that Northern Muslims are favoured by the Government while Northern Muslims feel that the district level administration in the Northern Province is unhelpful or even hostile to Muslim return. Amongst Northern Muslims there is a perception that sections of the community with greater political influence receive more assistance. This only reinforces the argument in favour of a consistent and comprehensive policy, rather than arbitrary categorisations. The growing discomfort with the ‘Old’ and ‘New’ categorisation did not go entirely unnoticed by the Government, leading even President Mahinda Rajapaksa to remark that his “government will make no distinction among, Jaffna Muslims, Mannar Muslims, Tamil or Sinhala, IDPs or between so-called ‘Old’ and ‘New’ IDPs. They are all IDPs and we will treat them all alike. It is the duty of my government to resettle them all soon.”85 The Government even began to insist that humanitarian agencies assist in the return of specific Old IDP populations, such as the returnees to areas released from the Jaffna HSZ,86 Northern Muslim IDPs returning to the North and Sinhala IDPs returning to Weli Oya.87 While many humanitarian agencies found themselves unprepared for these additional relief requests,88 the Government itself did not provide any resources to extend assistance to all such IDPs despite the obvious shortfall. The demands made by the Government to provide assistance in these areas were not supported by comprehensive needs assessments or the approval to conduct such assessments. The utility of the ‘Old’ and ‘New’ IDP categorisation is highly questionable. Rather than distinguish on the basis of Old and New, the interests of IDPs would be better served by shifting to a policy of providing assistance based on needs and vulnerability. This is not to suggest that the protracted nature of displacement experienced by many IDPs and its specific impacts should be ignored, but rather that policy and programming should account for such !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Interviews held with the displaced from Monerawewa and Gajabapura, Boralukanda, December, 2012 Fernando, S., 2010. Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa Pledges to make no distinction among Muslim, Tamil & Sinhala, IDPs, Asian Tribune, 16 November 2010. 86 Interview with two international humanitarian agencies, Jaffna, December 2012 87 Two letters were issued by the Presidential Task Force for Resettlement, Development and Security (PTF) one calling for reprioritisation of assistance to specific displaced populations (21 December 2011) and the other to focus on assistance for the ‘Weli Oya Project’ (22 December 2011). 88 For instance the Government called on UNHCR to extend the ‘resettlement’ allowance of Rs 25,000 to ‘Old IDPs’, however due to its shortfall in funding it could not do so.
experiences and shape assistance such that it best addresses the durable solutions desired by different IDP populations. In fact, it is more pertinent to view all those who continue to remain displaced as a result of the conflict and have not achieved a durable solution as protracted IDPs rather than as ‘Old’ and ‘New’ IDPs. IDPs from Sampur: Recognised without assistance In the absence of a comprehensive policy on displacement, even recognition as an IDP, regardless of Old or New, does not guarantee basic assistance let alone durable solutions. A significant proportion of the Sampur IDPs are nowhere close to finding a durable solution and continue to live in precarious conditions. Following the military’s capture of Sampur from the LTTE in September 2006, a High Security Zone was declared covering 11 GNs, eventually shrinking to 4 GNs by October 2008.89 In May 2012, the Government gazetted the area as a ‘Special Zone for Heavy Industries’, which includes a 500 MW coal power station. The majority of IDPs from this area continue to insist on return. It is estimated that the vast majority of the at least 4,085 IDPs live in welfare centres, transitional shelters or with host families, while only a few families have accepted relocation. The Government established three main welfare centres—Killivetti, Paddithidal and Manichchennai for IDPs from Sampur, which were supported by humanitarian agencies. However, from 2009 the number of agencies working in the camps has decreased and so has the amount of assistance, including extra food rations, personal hygiene products and camp maintenance. With the suspension of rations in December 2011 and limited livelihood opportunities, IDPs in the camps are finding basic survival increasingly challenging. Interviewees voiced opinions that the camps are becoming increasingly isolated and forgotten.90 Conditions in the camps have also steadily worsened. When the heavy monsoon rains in late 2012 damaged structures within the welfare centres, no aid was forthcoming from any agencies or the Government, and the Pradeshiya Sabha (local government authority) had to provide water and limited camp maintenance.91 In Paddithidal the shelters are long line-rooms, with boards and tin separating family dwellings. During the rains the earth floors inside the shelters became wet while the ground outside turned slushy, making movement within the camp difficult.92 Residents also voiced fears of an erosion of social values as a result of living in conditions that lack privacy and dignity.93 Largely due to such poor conditions, since September 2009, 402 families have moved out into transitional shelters built on privately owned lands in Kattaparichchan with the assistance of humanitarian organisations; other IDPs are living with host families. While the transitional shelters do offer more space, like the welfare camps they too lack proper flooring and some areas are prone to waterlogging. Moreover, now some of the private landowners on whose !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The four divisions are Sampur East, Sampur West, Koonativu and Kadarkaichenai. See Fonseka, B. and Raheem, M. 2009. Trincomalee High Security Zone and Special Economic Zone. September, for more details. 90 Interview with PS member and residents of Paddithidal and Kilivetti camps, November 2012 91 Interview with PS member and residents of Paddithidal and Kilivetti camps, November 2012 92 Interview with residents of Paddithidal and Kilivetti camps, November 2012 93 Interview with community leaders, November 2012
land IDPs have constructed their shelters want their lands back. Prior to their displacement, approximately 181 IDP families were engaged in fishing, utilising about 25 motorboats and 125 canoes. Currently, only 25 IDP families in Kattaparichchan are able to fish using one motorboat and 5 canoes, which are all rented. Moreover, they must work in shifts as the host community has primary fishing rights in the area. Similarly, opportunities for farming are very limited. The IDPs were given special passes to cultivate 300 acres of paddy land, and its harvest was used to sustain a major portion of the IDPs living in Kattaparichchan. However, consequent to some IDPs filing legal action against the May 2012 Gazette, the military has refused to issue them passes to access these areas for this Maha cultivation season. Community members felt that this was a punishment for challenging the Government.94 The increased mechanisation of the agricultural sector in Muttur has also meant decreased demand for agricultural labour. This has forced many IDPs to go to other areas, including other districts, in search of work. All of this leaves women-headed households, the elderly and other particularly vulnerable groups all the more vulnerable.
3.2 Policy Responses: Major Gaps and Concerns
The marginalisation of ‘Old IDPs’ in particular and protracted IDPs in general needs to be understood in light of the long-standing failure to comprehensively address the issue of IDPs. The absence of a comprehensive national IDP policy has been an area of serious concern. There are provisions in the Constitution, particularly the Fundamental Rights Chapter, that provide generally for the rights of all citizens, but there are no specific provisions relating to IDPs. Initiatives to develop legal and policy frameworks, especially during the course of the war, did not yield concrete results. One particularly significant initiative was the National Consultation on Durable Solutions, chaired by the then UN Special Representative on the Human Rights of IDPs.95 However, its recommendations to address the gaps in policy and development of common standards relating to IDPs, establishment of a Steering Committee and a subsequent action plan have not been implemented. At the 2008 Universal Period Review for Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council, the Government pledged that it would establish a national IDP policy but that pledge remains unfulfilled. In the absence of a national policy, a range of different institutions and mechanisms were established and other ad-hoc measures proposed but none of these have effectively addressed even the most basic issues like a developing a comprehensive profile of IDPs in the post-war context.96 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Interview with community leaders, November 2012 The meeting, held on 23rd- 25thSeptember 2008, was organised by the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights, and was supported by UNHCR. The meeting was chaired by Walter Kalin, former Representative of the UN Secretary General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons. Key issues discussed at the seminar included the absence of a clear definition for IDPs; a lack of common standards to address issues of IDPs; lack of coordination and integration of Government units; land and property issues; relocation; integration; compensation; security issues; livelihood issues and lack of infrastructure facilities. The seminar came up with a set of recommendations broadly focused on the following thematic issues: Baseline Data and Common Standards; Security, Confidence Building and Stabilization Measures; Achieving Durable Solutions and Development Related Issues. 96 “There have been a number of initiatives to develop laws and policies either specific to IDPs or with significant repercussions for them, but these processes have been stalled. The Ministry of Resettlement and the Resettlement Authority, working with the UNDP, developed a resettlement policy but a powerful actor within the Government ordered that the process be stopped in 2008. The IDP unit of the Human Rights Commission developed an IDP Bill which was presented to the Human Rights Ministry on 8 August 2008 but this bill was never presented to cabinet. In addition, the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights
Unfortunately, there continues to be disinterest and even active resistance within the Government to comprehensively address protracted displacement. For over two years the UNHCR has been in dialogue with the Government to conduct a comprehensive assessment of all IDPs, necessary to develop a proper understanding of the scale of protracted displacement. However, the Government reportedly wants the comprehensive mapping restricted to two rather than all nine districts that have large concentrations of current and former IDPs.97 It remains to be seen whether a comprehensive survey will take place.98 In the post-war context there are two main policy action plans - one focused on reconciliation (the National Plan of Action to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt Reconciliation Commission [NPA LLRC]) and the other on human rights (the National Action Plan for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights [NHRAP]). The final report of the LLRC99 has a chapter dedicated to IDP-related issues and also makes specific recommendations, including the formulation of a comprehensive State policy.100 However, the NPA LLRC did not take up all these recommendations, rather it put forward limited actions to operationalise selected recommendations instead of adopting a more comprehensive approach.101 On the issue of HSZs for instance, the Ministry of Defence, the relevant implementing agency, in its report on the implementation of the NPA LLRC simply notes that that there are no more HSZs, only cantonments and that Sampur is no longer occupied by the military but is rather earmarked for Board of Investment projects.102 While Chapter 8 of the NHRAP is focused on IDPs, it too has serious gaps in terms of the actions it proposes including the absence of a basic survey and assessment.103 Moreover, while the Government did unveil the NHRAP, which was approved by cabinet in December 2011, it is not clear whether or to what extent it is actually being implemented. The lack of political will to draw up a comprehensive policy for IDPs is also reflected in the Government’s failure to substantively address several critical issues pertaining to IDPs that the NPA LLRC and NHRAP highlight, including compensation and restitution, access to justice, resolution of land claims, and inter-ethnic relations and coexistence. Despite existing mechanisms such as the Rehabilitation of Persons, Properties and Industries Authority104 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
developed a Bill of Rights and a Human Rights Action Plan which was meant to set out targets and processes for addressing current human rights issues, including the IDP issue. The status of these bills and policies is unclear as of December 2010.” (Fonseka, B.and Raheem,M. Background report – Internally Displaced Persons in Sri Lanka: Legal Framework and Key Issues,’ South Asians for Human Rights (Edited), 2013. Reassessing Displacement in South Asia. pgs. 271-272). 97 Interview with UNHCR officials, Colombo, January 2012 98 IDMC, 2012. Sri Lanka, A hidden displacement crisis. 31 October; IDMC,2012. Sri Lanka, Global Overview, IDMC, 2012 99 The Government established the LLRC in 2010 to “examine the causes of the conflict and its impact on the people, to suggest recommendations to promote national unity and reconciliation, and to identify mechanisms for restitution to the affected people.” 100 Chapter 6 makes a number of key suggestions, including “a special programme to return /resettle ‘Old IDPs’ with the assistance of UN upon ascertaining the magnitude of the problem of ‘Old IDPs’,” establishment of a special committee to examine durable solutions, formulation of a comprehensive State policy on the issue of Northern Muslim IDPs, provision of alternate lands or compensation to all families who have lost lands or houses due to formal HSZs or to other informal or ad hoc security related needs, and paying attention to the continuing needs of resettled and re-resettled people. (9.149, 9.113, 9.142, 9.101 and 9.102, Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, 2011 101 The NPA LLRC calls for the appointment of “a special committee to examine durable solutions and formulate a comprehensive State policy” for the Northern displaced Muslims as opposed to devising a policy for all IDPs. Similarily, with reference to the LLRC recommendation calling on the Government to review the two existing HSZs in Palaly and Trincomalee-Sampur the NPA LLRC only proposes to “Release lands where possible and Take steps to re-locate or to pay compensation acting under applicable Statutes (Land Acquisition Act).” (National Plan of Action to Implement the Recommendations of the LLRC, Official website of the Government of Sri Lanka, 26 July 2012, Available at http://www.priu.gov.lk/news_update/Current_Affairs/ca201207/20120726national_plan_action.htm). See also Fonseka, B., Ganeshathasan, L. and Raheem, M. Commentary on The National Plan of Action to Implement the Recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, CPA, August 2012 102 National Plan of Action for The Implementation of LLRC Recommendations, January 2013, pgs.5, 17. 103 http://www.hractionplan.gov.lk/ 104 http://www.reprimin.gov.lk/index.php/en/institues/rehabilitation-of-persons-properties-and-industries-authority/overview
(REPPIA), IDPs do not receive adequate compensation for loss of or damage to houses, livestock, livelihood equipment and other assets. The amounts received seldom enable replacement of lost or damaged assets with ones that are more durable and of better quality as laid out in the Pinherio Principles.105 IDP communities have also been subject to grave human rights violations including extra-judicial deaths, enforced disappearances, gender-based violence. In Sampur alone it is estimated that 250 persons were killed during the displacement and at least 25 have been reported missing since 2006.106 However, beyond access to appropriate remedies, reparations or access to justice, IDPs have not even been provided with an effective and accessible mechanism to trace missing persons despite a specific LLRC recommendation in this regard. The absence of a credible mechanism to protect land rights is also particularly significant for IDPs because of multiple land-related issues in war-affected areas including occupation of land by the military, state or other civilians, loss of documents and competing claims. Even the Government’s latest land circular of January 2013107 does not address key issues of occupation of land by state and military actors108 nor does it guarantee a participatory approach. Land is perceived to be one of the main root causes to the ethnic conflict. Prior to the outbreak of the war, issues relating to government-sponsored colonisation projects and contestation over land powers contributed to the polarisation between communities. During the war the violence, forced displacement, land grabs, fear and intimidation, and secondary occupation all added to the suffering and suspicions between communities. Hence, return of IDPs and settlement of civilians can prove to be controversial, as in Weli Oya/Manal Aru where there are accusations of land grabs and new Sinhala settlers being brought in even before the basic needs of those affected by the war have been provided for.109 Land disputes can also impinge on inter-ethnic relations, especially where minority ethnic communities long displaced are returning, such as Muslims and Sinhalese returning to the North. The absence of a comprehensive set of trust and confidence building measures not only undermines relations between communities but also between government officials and communities. There is a clear need for the Government to address grievances and injustices, act as an arbiter and not allow state actors to be involved in policies and measures that could further complicate ethnic tensions. As such there is a need for increased attention to addressing community level disputes, greater transparency and conflict sensitivity on the part of state actors. A broader underlying concern is the significant role that the military continues to play in the governance of the North and the East. In addition to encroaching on civilian administration, the military is also engaged in surveillance and monitoring of IDP communities, which has limited the information available on the ground. For instance, Sinhala IDPs from Weli Oya/Manal Aru informed CPA that the military had warned them not to speak to outsiders; IDPs from Sampur also said they had been warned by the military to inform them if any outsiders came to speak to them. Even government officials were apprehensive about sharing information, such as in Batticaloa where officials repeatedly insisted that the Government had issued statements that there was no more displacement and so were reluctant to point to information that may !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
UN Principles for Housing and Property Restitution for Refugees and IDPs, which is also referred to as the Pinheiro Principles. Interviews with community leaders from Sampur, Muttur, November 2012 107 ‘Accelerated Programme on Solving Post Conflict State Land Issues in the Northern and Eastern Provinces – Land Circular 2013/01’ For more see Fonseka, B. and Raheem,M. 2011. Land in the Northern Province, Post-War Politics, Policy and Practices, CPA, December. 108 Brief Commentary Accelerated Programme on Solving Post Conflict State Lands Issues in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. Land Circular: 2013/01, Centre for Policy Alternatives, March 2013 109 For more see Fonseka, B. and Raheem,M. 2011. Land in the Northern Province, Post-War Politics, Policy and Practices, CPA, December.
contradict that position. The atmosphere of fear and apprehension, especially the policing of IDP communities and civil society actors by the military and intelligence, undermines transparency, accountability and basic democratic norms, which in itself is an obstacle to durable solutions and in turn exacerbate the challenges being faced by IDPs and civil society actors attempting to support them. Finally, it is important to underline that though many of the concerns highlighted in this section hold particular relevance to IDPs, some, such as the problem of land right, access and use, and militarisation, impact all those affected by the conflict and addressing them is important to make substantial progress with respect to peace and reconciliation.
3.3 Role of humanitarian agencies, civil society and political actors
The failure of the Government to recognise and respond adequately to protracted displacement in Sri Lanka also highlights shortcomings in the response of national and international humanitarian and development actors, inter- and non-governmental. Even though the UNHCR and humanitarian organisations were aware of the problems facing ‘Old IDPs’, they appear to have been apprehensive in pushing the Government on the issue. As an international humanitarian worker who was active in Sri Lanka during the 2007-2010 period said, the “old caseload [‘Old IDPs’] did not slip off the table. They were not on the table to begin with.”110 In addition to the urgency of dealing with the Vanni humanitarian crisis, this also appears to have been driven by concerns over already serious short falls to cover the needs of ‘New IDPs’. “The economics made it impossible”111 is how another humanitarian worker engaged in advocacy on human rights and humanitarian issues at the time explained it. Another challenge has been the nature and dynamics of domestic visibility and advocacy with regard to IDPs. While some communities such as the Northern Muslims and Tellipallai HSZ IDPs have been quite visible in the media and public discourse, by comparison, other protracted IDPs have received far less public attention or have even been forgotten. Hence, the advocacy for these ‘hidden populations’ has to commence from raising awareness about their very existence. Local civil society has not always been successful in highlighting the multiple IDP populations and building strategic linkages between the situation of particular cases and the broader interests of all IDPs. In general, post-war advocacy relating to IDPs has been plagued by insufficient information and understanding regarding the substantive issues and lived realities of IDPs as well as ethnicisation of the issue. Political leaders and many civil society groups have tended to focus on highlighting the concerns of specific populations they work with but have often been unsuccessful or even unwilling to take their engagement beyond narrow political, regional and ethnic terms. For instance, Muslim and Tamil political leaders from the North have failed to adequately address concerns of Tamil and Muslim protracted IDPs respectively. A common complaint by Northern Muslim IDPs is that NGOs in the North tend to be staffed mostly by Tamils who are unsympathetic to their needs. Specific communities within a displaced population may also find !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Interview with international personnel covering humanitarian issues, January 2011 Interview with international personnel covering humanitarian issues, January 2011
themselves marginalised; for example, Northern Muslims displaced to and currently living in Puttalam who wish to locally integrate while securing their due rights in the North, have found it challenging to muster political support for their cause. Concerns over ‘resettlement’ being part of a wider political agenda, including perceptions of demographic engineering and Sinhala ‘colonisation’ are another factor influencing civil society engagement with IDP issues. Reports of landless families from other districts being settled in the North—such as landless Sinhalese from outside the North and East in Weli Oya/Manel Aru by the Mahaweli Authority—even before resettlement of IDPs has been concluded and land disputes resolved, has only heightened these fears.112 Notwithstanding the range of governmental, inter- and non-governmental actors working on a variety of issues pertaining to displacement, there has been a failure to develop a consistent or comprehensive strategy to ensure adequate attention is given to protracted displacement. That even IDP communities who have political representatives from their community in elected bodies, including Parliament,113 have not seen this representation translate into meaningful and sustained policy attention, as opposed to ad hoc measures, underlines the extent to which protracted displacement has been marginalised in policy and public discourse. Equity must therefore be a cornerstone of any policy to ensure durable solutions for IDPs and must be linked to other key rights issues including compensation, justice and security.
There are also reports of some 2,000 Sinhalese families being settled by the Government in Kalabogaswewa, Vavuniya South although they have no historical connection to the area. These families have reportedly received more assistance from the Government than many of the returning IDPs. (Interviews conducted with community members and local officials, June 2013; Interviews with Sinhala displaced from WeliOya, Padaviya division, Anuradhapura, December 2012.); In April 2013 President Mahinda Rajapaksa personally distributed land deeds to 3,000 farmer families in the Mahaweli L zone ( News.lk, 2013, “Land deeds distributed to over 3,000 Mahaweli farmers”, April 22) 113 The Sampur IDPs have recently been able to secure one representative in the Eastern Provincial Council, in addition to one member in Muttur Pradeshiya Sabha.
Chapter 4: Settlement options: Complex choices for IDPs
In deciding between settlement options, IDPs are influenced by a variety of factors ranging from the personal and emotional to the family’s economic situation and the available services in the area, or even larger socio-political forces and compulsions. However, protracted IDP communities are also impacted by their experience of prolonged displacement which not only impacts which options they choose but also how they choose and operationalise these options. This results in more complex choices for protracted IDPs than for the more recently displaced.
4.1 Factors influencing settlement choices of IDPs
At the outset it is important to note that there are a range of push and pull factors influencing how IDPs view, construct and choose return, local integration or relocation as pathways to durable solutions. The key pull factors highlighted by IDPs during the interviews as influencing their decision to return were: emotional attachment to the place of origin; access to resources and services, including assistance packages for return; ownership of and claims over land; community bonds; and fear of losing rights in areas of return. Conversely, key push factors that tended to push IDPs towards return were: living conditions in displacement, especially for poorer IDPs in welfare centres or temporary shelters, a sense of dislocation, pressure from the host community, a lack of information and credible alternatives, and pressure from political leaders. Factors that were cited as detracting from return included the lack of services and development, particularly the quality of education; limited assistance to return; inadequate socio-economic opportunities in the place of origin and security concerns, especially in remote areas. All these factors may play a role in influencing the choices that IDPs make in whether to return, locally integrate or relocate. While these factors are common to all IDPs, as will be noted in the following section 3.2, protracted IDPs may face more complex choices due to a variety of reasons including the length of their displacement and their construction of survival strategies in displacement.
IDPs from Weli Oya/ Manal Aru: Struggling to locally integrate Individual IDP communities have unique concerns and experiences, in addition to ones more widely shared with other IDPs that will influence their choices. Boralukanda Village in Padaviya DS Division in Anuradhapura is a site where displaced families from Weli Oya are attempting to locally integrate. There are about 132 families living in the village, all of whom were displaced from the villages of Monarawewa and Gajabapura! in Weli Oya.114 Initially the families were housed at a temporary IDP welfare centre in Boralukanda but their temporary shelters were !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
While the Weli Oya residents faced numerous attacks and displacements, the last major displacement from Monarawewa and Gajabapura took place on 07th November 1999.Most of these persons went to live with their friends and relatives in different parts of the country. However a large number of persons also sought shelter in the Padaviya area, Anurdhapura, within a significant number finding shelter in a welfare centre established in Boralukanda. (Interviews with the displaced from Monerawewa and Gajabapura, Boralukanda, December, 2012)
converted to more permanent housing following a visit to the village by the former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga in 2005. Despite their areas of origin in Weli Oya being opened for ‘resettlement’ in September 2011, a significant number of these IDPs have chosen to remain in Boralukanda, notwithstanding the hardships they continue to face there. The reasons they cited for not wanting to return included: lack of resources and infrastructure in Weli Oya;115 competition for assistance and lack of faith in the ‘resettlement’ process because new Sinhalese families from elsewhere in country are also being settled; greater access to resources in Boralukanda and proximity to an urban centre with key facilities and resources; and the length of time they have spent in Boralukanda and the level of stability they have managed to achieve largely on their own. Moreover, returning to Weli Oya would imply undergoing many of the hardships of moving and recovery all over again.116 As demonstrated in the case above, assistance options for the different settlement choices also play a role in the decision-making of IDPs. In general, there is a tendency to overemphasise return as the primary solution among governments and even humanitarian agencies, at least in terms of assistance packages. There is very limited assistance provided for local integration and there is little effort to carry out assessments to determine if IDPs who do not opt for return as soon as their places of origin are accessible have found a durable solution through local integration. As discussed earlier, they may have even been de-registered without an assessment of whether they still face specific assistance and protection needs related to their displacement and the obstacles they face in overcoming these in order to achieve their preferred durable solution, whether this be return, local integration or even relocation. The socio-economic attachments to and opportunities in the place of refuge also play a role, especially if it is an urban area. The experience of conflict, insecurity, displacement and the hardships undergone to establish lives in places of refuge sometimes creates apprehensions and reluctance amongst IDPs to undergo the process of establishment again and thus also impact the choices that IDPs make. IDPs are also apprehensive of opting for local integration or relocation if they fear this may entail losing access to compensation, reparations or land ownership in their place of origin and identify with their place of origin. The lack of information relating to available options, assistance and services only compounds these concerns. For specific populations, choices may be severely restricted. Return is not currently even an option for some of the IDPs interviewed as their villages or neighbourhoods in urban centres are occupied by the state for military or development purposes. In other instances even if areas of origin are accessible, some IDPs may not be able to return because their properties may still be unsafe due to mines and UXOs or as a result of occupation by the military.
“Before we left the area, there was a school in Gajabapura, which had two halls, two teachers’ quarters and the two villages named Gajabapura and Monerawewa had a permanent warehouse, a co-operative shop, community halls, temples and other buildings. However when we returned we could not find even a piece of brick of the buildings that existed here. We could only find a barren land.” (Interviews held with the displaced from Monerawewa and Gajabapura, Boralukanda, December 2012.) 116 Interviews held with the displaced from Monerawewa and Gajabapura, Boralukanda, December 2012.
Tellipallai: Limited choices The situation confronting IDPs from areas in Tellipalai that are still occupied by the military underlines the challenges of making decisions under adverse and uncertain circumstances. The Government has released significant areas of land (24 out of 48 GN Divisions) that constituted the Telipallai HSZ and other HSZs in the Jaffna Peninsula. Although the legality of HSZs ceased with the lapse of Emergency Regulations, in April 2013 the Government initiated the acquisition of the remaining land, 6,381 acres and 38.97 perches of private land in the former HSZ areas, reportedly for the existing military cantonment.117 Given the de-facto military occupation, for the moment at least, return does not seem possible. Besides a political challenge by the affected persons and Tamil political parties in particular, there have been legal challenges including more than 2,176 persons filing applications in the Court of Appeal and in the Supreme Court from May 2013 onwards against the acquisition.118 However, the Government has not developed a resettlement plan for these IDPs and there is little clarity regarding meaningful alternatives or assistance that may be provided. Moreover, it is also not clear when and what kind of resolution, if any, will result from the political and legal challenges. Therefore the IDPs find themselves in a situation marked by uncertainties with little prospect of being able to make well informed and clear-cut long-term choices. There is little information on the acquisition so not all landowners have been able to verify that their land is to be acquired. Speaking about IDPs from Madagal, a village formerly part of the Telipallai HSZ, a retired government servant noted “Some people are in two minds whether to comeback permanently, but most want to maintain their ancestral land in Madagal even if they don’t settle down [there] permanently.”119 As with other communities factors such as socioeconomic background, access to finances and the availability of other living options play a significant role in decision making. Besides the protection of rights of affected communities, such attempts to acquire land also raise questions regarding the Government’s commitment to return lands and de-militarisation in general. The situation also presents dilemmas for humanitarian agencies as to whether they should be supporting involuntary relocation or forced local integration. Interviews also revealed that choices IDPs make are influenced by political, cultural and social evaluations and possible repercussions of their decisions. For instance, the choice of IDP families to return or locally integrate/relocate maybe shaped by decisions of others in the community largely due to perceptions of mutual security, support and social ties. Similarly, much like emotional ties to their place of origin, perceptions of loss of community identity, their !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
CPA, 2013. Field Report: Jaffna and Killinochchi Districts. April. Available at http://www.cpalanka.org/field-report-jaffna-andkillinochchi-districts/ 118 Appeal Court Issues Notice On Respondents In Cases By 2176 Jaffna Tamils Seeking Relief Against Land Grab By Rajapaksa Regime, Colombo Telegraph, May 30th, 2013. Available at http://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/appeal-court-issuesnotice-on-respondents-in-cases-by-2176-jaffna-tamils-seeking-relief-against-land-grab-by-rajapaksa-regime/; Jaffna Tamils’ Land Grab FR Cases: Justice Sripavan Advises DSG How To Grab Lands Correctly, Colombo Telegraph, June 12th, 2013. Available at: http://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/jaffna-tamils-land-grab-fr-cases-justice-sripavan-advises-dsg-how-to-grab-landscorrectly/ 119 Interview with a retired Government servant in Madagal, December 2012
wartime experiences, understanding of their own rights and the level of state support, all influence choices made by IDPs. Cultural and religious practices can also impact choices. For instance, some older Muslim IDP couples in Batticaloa who were interviewed explained that they had given away their land and house in their place of refuge as dowry for a daughter’s marriage, hence they had an added reason to return to their place of origin either because they seek an alternate shelter for themselves or to provide for the dowry of another daughter.120 Politics also plays a significant role in defining how choices are articulated. The positions and advocacy of certain choices by political and civil society representatives may not always be representative of the interests of IDPs within a particular community. For instance, even while a majority of families in specific IDP communities affected by state occupation may insist that return is their only choice, there may be others, especially the landless and most vulnerable, who are willing to consider relocation or local integration.
4.2 Protracted displacement: Complicating choices further
As outlined above, a number of factors influence IDPs in deciding between various settlement options. However, when displacement is protracted it renders such decision making even more complicated in ways that are important to acknowledge and recognise. At the heart of this lies the difference in the way governments or humanitarian agencies and IDPs construct and operationalise return, local integration and relocation. An administrative-bureaucratic logic constructs these solutions as three mutually exclusive and one-time choices, but IDPs interviewed for this study appear to see it differently. For IDPs, return, local integration and relocation offered a combination of several possibilities, reflecting a more fluid construction. It is one in which the solutions sought or choices made reflect a mix of options subject to the situation on the ground in their places of refuge and origin, present (and anticipated) opportunities and risks, and a host of other contingent factors. In looking at how protracted IDPs choose and seek to operationalise these choices, there are distinct patterns that emerge, as compared to more recent IDPs. In general, protracted IDPs appear to have a higher propensity to opt for local integration and relocation. Despite the generally poor standards of living for those in protracted displacement, many of these IDPs have, over time built up some form of stability and may prefer to continue to invest in maintaining and strengthening it in situ (through enhancing access to livelihoods, adequate housing, education, health, etc.) rather than returning. This is more likely when facilities and infrastructure in the place of origin have declined, need extensive rebuilding, are no longer deemed appropriate121 or when homes and properties are badly damaged or destroyed due to long-term abandonment, demanding high levels of investment to restore. Last but not least, return can be more challenging when protracted displacement, especially in welfare centres, may have created dependencies and there is limited assistance for return.
Interview with returnees who were displaced in Kawathamunai, Karamunai, November 2012 2007 Expert Seminar Report. 2007
Interviews with protracted IDPs from Batticaloa and Jaffna underlined that having spent years re-building their lives, they are not always likely to return as soon as their places of origin are accessible, even if assistance is provided. However this does not mean that they all want to locally integrate or relocate, and many still demand the release of their lands to allow for return. Moreover, if they do decide to return, it may be staggered. For example, men may return first, sometimes just for a harvest or fishing season, with other members of the family following as the situation in the areas of return improves. However, the most vulnerable IDPs, especially those who are poor and lack livelihood security are more likely to return sooner, sometimes taking their entire family with them at once.
Sampur IDPs: Relocation as the only option? IDPs may see durable solutions as a combination of choices open to change rather than mutually exclusive possibilities and irreversible decisions. Thus, for many IDPs from Sampur who chose to relocate to Gangei Village, return to areas of origin was not ruled out. Some IDPs said that if their places of origin were opened up they would attempt to return, while others noted that they would continue to live in Gangei but use their land in Sampur for their livelihood. A number of interviewees claimed that officials from the Muttur DS office had assured them that if Sampur were de-notified as a special economic/security zone, their lands would be restored to them. Hence, it cannot be assumed that those who relocated have ceded their rights to their lands or their right to return given the freedom of movement and right to reside in a place of one’s choice as guaranteed by the Sri Lankan Constitution, especially in a context like Sampur where there are serious questions as to whether due process has been followed and no compensation has been provided. Furthermore, it is also evident that there are strong ties to the area of origin that families have tried to maintain, especially amongst the older generation. For instance, various sets of houses in Gangei were named after the occupants’ village of origin and individual plots were chosen so that neighbours would be persons from the same village or area of origin. Older family members also stated that they would give their land in the relocation area to their children and return, if they could.122 When one older interviewee was asked if their displacement was over he replied, “we can’t forget, we are still displaced.”123 However, other IDPs are building a new life in relocation sites such as Ralkulli and are clear that this will be their primary place of residence even if Sampur is opened for return. A younger family member said, “if there is development, then this [Ralkulli] will become my village.”124 When displacement lasts more than a generation, the issue of choosing a durable solution within a family is likely to be complicated. Even while the idea of ‘home’ and collective identity may be narrated in terms of the place of origin, in practical terms preferences may have changed.125 IDPs who foresee difficulties in reintegration upon return, especially second generation IDPs, are more likely to opt for local integration. This can often lead to family !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Interview with relocated female person from Sampur, Gangei, November 2012 2011 Expert Seminar Information Sheet
members choosing different options; 40% of respondents in a survey conducted among protracted IDPs in Puttalam by NRC reported that they would have to experience family separations due to different choices being made within the family regarding durable solutions to displacement.126 There are several examples of protracted IDPs appearing to choose both return and local integration. It is also possible that over time family units may choose one option for a period and then move to another or in some cases choose two options simultaneously. As seen in the case of Batticaloa Muslim IDPs discussed further below,127 IDPs contemplating return may even register as returnees but opt to live on in places of refuge, awaiting assistance and improvement of infrastructure in areas of return. With family size increasing over the period of displacement they often require more space to accommodate new families. Some extended families have thus decided to live between two places, at least for the time being. However, they need to follow existing procedures of de-registration as displaced persons and register either as a returnee or as a resident in the place of local integration or relocation. This has an effect in terms of accessing other rights such as for voting or land rights and assistance packages. This is particularly a challenge for ‘new families,’ also referred to as second generation IDPs, who as children of those who were displaced may not be recognised as original residents in their village from which they claim origin. Hence, they may face problems in claiming state land if they choose to return. There are allegations that protracted IDPs register as returnees to take advantage of whatever assistance is available even while opting for local integration and/or having achieved a durable solution through it. However, apart from the inherent complexities involved in choosing the best settlement option, a decision to register as returnees while continuing to live on in places of refuge may also be prompted by the lack of assistance for local integration, low levels of compensation, doubts regarding restitution of properties and overall lack of information—the Batticaloa Muslim IDPs fear they may not regain possession of state lands they used for agriculture prior to their displacement unless they attempt to return. Hence, the fear or prospect that a chosen solution may not work or be rendered unviable is a factor that may also lead to IDPs making complex or ‘irregular’ choices in order to mitigate risks through maintaining a presence across two locations. In general though, choices regarding durable solutions made by IDPs and protracted IDPs in particular, are contingent on a variety of factors and may well shift over time, which is a phenomenon not limited to IDP communities in Sri Lanka. According to Bradley and Mc Adam: It has often been assumed that durable solutions mark the end of mobility for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). However, in recent years it has become clear that this assumption needs to be reconsidered. Even after the situations that forced them from their homes have been resolved, many former refugees and IDPs remain “on the move,” making choices that subvert the standard durable solutions framework.128 The seemingly irregular nature of the choices made by protracted IDPs does present a challenge especially in the context of financial, civil, political and administrative constraints that may limit the capacity of the government and humanitarian agencies alike to deal with complex ground realities. An unfortunate result is that such ‘irregular’ choices may be met a with a !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Protracted Muslim IDPs from Jaffna in Puttalam and their Right to Choose a Durable Solution, NRC, June 2010. See section on Return in Chapter 5. 128 Bradley, M. and McAdam, J., 2012. Rethinking Durable Solutions in the Context of Climate Change, Brookings Institute, May 14.
degree of suspicion resulting in prolonged verification processes, which in turn may undermine the quality and relevance of assistance eventually provided. As one humanitarian agency worker from Jaffna pointed out, handing over a Non-Food Relief Items (NFRI) tool kit may be held up because of delays in determining whether an IDP family had actually returned or not. However, precisely because the NFRI tool kit is designed to assist in the clearance of land it often ceased to be timely or relevant after being given to beneficiaries following much delay. Furthermore, if humanitarian agencies tend to delay the provision of assistance, particularly temporary shelters, this could become another factor for IDPs re-considering their decision to return.129 Notwithstanding the institutional and financial constraints that may restrict the flexibility to adapt to complex and ‘irregular’ choices made by IDPs, it is imperative to develop responses that are more sensitive, effective and account for the complex ground realities. Central to this is ensuring awareness of and respect for the rights of IDPs, clearer communication of government regulations especially registration, and a focus on supporting and engaging with IDPs rather than on merely providing material assistance. There, also needs to be a re-evaluation of the type of assistance being provided in order to ensure that it is more attuned to these complex choices.
Interview with personnel from humanitarian agency, Jaffna, November 2012
Chapter 5: Challenges to Achieving Durable Solutions
Whatever settlement options they exercise, protracted IDPs face a variety of challenges in achieving durable solutions. Return, local integration and relocation each pose different obstacles that need to be addressed. Understanding these challenges and obstacles is critical because assistance more often than not follows a one-size fits all policy that does not account for different needs and expectations. This chapter outlines some of the challenges associated with return, relocation and local integration and underlines how assistance needs to be reconfigured to ensure more effective and sensitive responses to protracted IDPs.
Between 2009 and 2012, the Government registered as many as 212,094 ‘Old’ IDPs as having returned and even though more than 75,898 protracted IDPs remain, the scale of return is significant. However, it is important to look closely at the situation, of those registered as returnees as well as remaining ‘Old IDPs’. A central challenge when it comes to protracted IDPs is the gap between the number officially registered as returnees and those who have actually returned. Moreover, the entire population of protracted IDPs do not tend to return together or even very quickly. As noted previously this is due to a number of factors including protracted IDPs settling for more complex settlement options and being unwilling to exercise the return option immediately. Some broad patterns with respect to return are summarised below: • The number of returnees are lower than the total number of displaced from the place of origin: In Kollankalatti village off Keerimale in Jaffna, opened for resettlement in May 2012, one recently returned IDP family pointed out that prior to their displacement in 1992 about 2,000 persons lived in the village but as of 1st December 2012 only about 500 persons had returned.130 This pattern is also seen in Muslim return villages of Western and Northern Batticaloa, where despite the natural increase the current populations are lower than when the communities were displaced in the 1980s and 1990s. The number of ‘permanent’ returnees is lower than the number of persons registered as returnees: In the case of the Tellipalai HSZ IDPs, the number of persons registered as returnees, according to one humanitarian worker, is around 70% of the registered IDPs but the actual number of returnees in the villages on a given day is much less than those registered. 131 Returnees may move between their place of origin and place of displacement/local integration: Returnee populations consist of a significant proportion of mobile individuals
Interview with newly resettled families in Kollankalatti, Tellipalai, December 2012. Interview with Humanitarian worker, Jaffna, November 2012.
and families, including ‘day-time returnees,’ who in the short- to mid-term at least, prefer to maintain another home, usually in the place of refuge so may carry out livelihoods in return areas and sleep in the houses where they have been living so far. Return areas also see seasonal variations, especially in the case of farming villages, with more individuals living there during the cultivation period. The demographic profile of returnee communities is not necessarily representative of that of the displaced community: The composition of the returnee communities tends to be skewed though it varies across communities. In the Muslim villages in western Batticaloa returnee populations appeared to have more men than women--for instance, in Karamunai only 12 of the 73 returnee families included both male and female members who stayed overnight.132 It was also reported that more older persons, farmers and fishermen had retuned than children of school-going age, shop-owners and professionals.133
Returnees also face serious challenges in actually achieving a durable solution. The concerns raised by returnees included returnees lacking information relating to return; limited assistance for rehabilitation and reconstruction; serious damage to and long-term neglect of essential infrastructure and services; challenges in securing land and property ownership; security concerns due to presence of landmines, UXOs or heavy military presence; and gender-based violence. Broadly these concerns overlap with the principles in the Durable Solutions Framework, both in terms of the five process related criteria and the eight standards. Moreover, returnees belonging to vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, female-headed households, the disabled and landless poor, face additional challenges. For instance, in Mathahal in Jaffna there were returnees who were unable to claim either the WFP food ration or the resettlement allowance as they had already availed of these when they were released from the closed camps in 2010. They had been displaced from Jaffna in the mid-1990s to the Vanni and were held in closed IDP camps following their displacement in 2009. Two of the families interviewed by CPA seemed to be extremely vulnerable – one was a family of two older persons and the other a female-headed household with two children.134 Protracted IDPs also struggle to re-establish livelihoods or to develop new livelihoods in significantly changed circumstances. Regaining access to land is a particularly relevant concern for many IDPs trying to return. The inability to claim land is a serious hurdle to achieving durable solutions in return as it has an impact on housing as well as livelihoods, especially agriculture and fisheries. Some protracted IDPs, including those from Sampur in Trincomalee, Telipallai in Jaffna and Mullikulam in Mannar continue to be displaced by the continuing occupation of their land by the military. Occupation of private and state land by the military not only creates an obstacle to return for many thousands of IDPs, it also exacerbates the problem of finding land for landless second and third generation IDPs. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Field visit to Karamunai and Interview with returnees, Karamunai, December 2012 Interview with Muslim displaced community leaders from Poththaanai Anaikattu, Karamunai and Rugam, Ottamavadi, November 2012 134 A significant number of IDPs who were kept in closed camps in Vavuniuya and Jaffna were able to secure release if they were able to provide addresses in districts of the East or North (outside the Vanni). A number of these persons ended up with relatives and host families and have not been able to find a durable solution.
Land As An Obstacle to Return Land issues are a key problem raised by Muslim IDPs and returnees in Batticaloa. Drawing on its discussions with community representatives, the LLRC noted in its Final Report: “The Muslim representatives informed the Commission that in 1990, the LTTE had burnt most of the land records of Muslims held in the Land Registry section in the Valachchenai Divisional Secretariat Office. They also informed that even after the dawn of peace, the majority of ‘permit’ lands cultivated by them, prior to the conflict, have not been restored, allegedly, due to the ethnic bias of some officers of the Divisional Secretariat Offices.”135 Restoration of land records136 along with recognition of land claims and resolving of issues arising out of secondary occupation are major concerns for these returnees. In Rugam, for instance, there are cases of secondary displacement, as Tamil IDPs from Pallamunai who settled there during the war, currently occupy some lands claimed by Muslim IDPs. A number of these Muslim families, who have lost their land documents, currently live in Saddam Hussein Village, Eravur, but express a keen desire to return; even their youth see Rugam as their “birthplace.”137 However, some of the Pallamunai Tamils cited Sinhalese settlements near their place of origin and the lack of infrastructure, transport and education facilities in their place of origin as reasons for living in Rugam.138 The Muslim IDPs were not willing to settle for alternative land in Rugam, preferring instead the prime land, which they claim was theirs originally. According to them, political interference from the TMVP and lack of administrative support from the DS is preventing them from securing their land.139 As this case demonstrates, land issues can be critical stumbling blocks to achieving durable solutions. In addition to the general problems such as the loss of and damage to land documents, and difficulties in identifying property boundaries, there are a variety of other land problems, including secondary occupation of lands. It is alleged that in some instances DS officers have reportedly given permits to land claimed by displaced Muslims to Tamils, therefore it is evident that the situation is complex.140 Contested land sales and rentals complicate the issue further. In some cases land was sold or transferred by Muslims to Tamils, however Muslim interviewees from various sites claimed that they sold their land under duress from the LTTE or had only rented out properties to Tamils who are now claiming ownership.141 There are expectations that some of these land issues can be solved through processes including the Land Circular No. 2013/01 of January 2013 and Landless Initiative of 2010142, !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
6.15,Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation, November 2011. Some claim that though they may have lost their land documents, they have supporting documents such as voter registration and water bills.(Interview with male returnee, Karamunai; male returnee, Poththaanai Anaikkatu), November 2012. 137 Interviews with four households displaced from Rugam, Saddam Hussein Village, November 2012; with two returnee households, Rugam, November 2012 138 Interview with Tamil returnees in Rugam, December 2012. 139 Interview with displaced youth from Rugam, Saddam Hussein Village, December 2012. 140 Interview with Muslim displaced community leaders from Poththaanai Anaikattu, Karamunai and Rugam, Ottamavadi, November 2012 141 One resident claimed that he transferred ownership to a Tamil neighbour as a temporary measure and received Rs 50,000 but that the neighbour is now claiming that there was no such arrangement and that he is the rightful owners. (Interview with female displaced person from Kalliyankaadu, Kathankudy, November 2012) 142 Fonseka, B. and Raheem, M. 2010. Land in the Eastern Province Politics, Policy and Conﬂict, CPA, May
however this clearly also requires additional community level processes, particularly to mediate settlements where possible. While there have not been major instances of violence between Tamils and Muslims in the area, a failure to address real or perceived grievances in relation to return of IDPs can potentially generate tensions and hostility. Protracted IDPs can face significant challenges in re-integrating with communities that were either not displaced, displaced later or even returned earlier and this may be exacerbated when both communities have suffered the direct effects of protracted violence and communal tensions. Ensuring an adequate standard of living is another challenge. The Tellipallai HSZ IDPs complained that some families were not receiving assistance because Government and humanitarian agencies would not provide assistance unless IDPs physically returned but for many that was not possible without some assistance in the first place. Moreover, the major permanent housing project, the Indian Housing Project (IHP), only covered a part of the returning IDP population and land ownership is an important criteria for being included as a beneficiary. In a similar vein, Muslim returnees in Batticaloa and Trincomalee pointed out that they many of them could not get on the Samurdhi (poverty alleviation) beneficiary list. According to them this was not because they were ineligible but because inadequate financing prevented the inclusion of more beneficiaries.143 Deficiencies in critical services were cited by many IDPs as yet another major challenge. Though steps have been taken to improve essential services, including upgrading of the Telipalai hospital, returnees were particularly concerned over lack of public transport (buses), electricity, water, schools, and co-operative shops. The lack of or limited services contribute to more complex living patterns. One family displaced to the Chunnakam Welfare Camp returned in August 2012 to Keerimalai but left three children behind in the camp in the care of their grandmother so they could continue attending school without disruption.144
Some IDPs opt to settle in a location that is not the place of return or the place of displacement. The lack of ownership or access to land in the place of return or displacement, coupled with the provision of land in a relocation site and assistance to relocate are key factors in influencing this decision. Relocation is not always the result of IDPs choosing between the three settlement options, as in a number of instances return is not possible. For example, for those displaced by the military occupation of Mullikulam and most of Silvathurai in Mussali, Mannar District and the Sampur economic zone, return, at least for now, is not feasible and assistance is effectively conditional upon agreeing to relocate. Both New and ‘Old IDPs’ have therefore been subject to involuntary relocation in the aforementioned situations. However, there are also instances, such as in Mannar and Vavuniya, where the Government has shown !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Supra Chapter 2.2 Hidden protracted displacement, p. 24 Interview with recent returnees, Keerimale and Chullipuram East, December 2012
reluctance to support relocation even though IDP families desired it, which in turn meant that humanitarian agencies and NGOs were also restricted from supporting it. At the outset, there are serious questions as to whether involuntary relocation should take place on its current scale or at least as to whether the number of families to be affected cannot be reduced. One community leader from Sampur said, “we are not opposed to development”, underlining the community’s attempts to explain to Government how the impacts of development activities on the civilian population could be minimised.145 It needs to be noted that not all the land that is currently off-limits to civilians has not been demarcated as part of the Special Zone for Heavy Industries in the May 2012 gazette.146 While the military continues to occupy and acquire large amounts of land for cantonments, commercial activities and development zones, there is little information on exactly when and how all of the land thus earmarked will actually be used. There are even contradictory statements with regard to the release of lands back to civilians in the case of both Sampur and Tellipallai.147 Another pertinent question here is whether humanitarian agencies should in fact be providing assistance for relocation stemming from land occupied for military purposes, which in effect amounts to subsidising of the military, when it is actually the responsibility of the Government to ensure viable relocation. There are a number of other factors influencing relocation. Prominent amongst them is the experience of multiple and prolonged displacement coupled with the uncertainty of return. Land is another key issue. In Sampur for instance, a number of the families who chose relocation tended to be families who were landless prior to displacement as the Government provided 20 perches of land per family in the relocation site. On the other hand, in some cases in Jaffna, landless families often identified private land close by their current area of residence that they could purchase and settle on but the Government did not provide assistance for the relocation. Sampur: Struggling to find Durable Solutions through relocation Currently the Government is developing three main relocation sites, Ralkulli, Sithanaweli, and Wandithottam, for the permanent settlement of IDPs from Sampur. There is now a slow trickle of IDP families turning up at the relocation sites hoping to be included among the beneficiaries.148 The main reasons cited by those who accepted relocation were the poor conditions in the welfare centres, the lack of progress with regards to their return, and the limited livelihood opportunities. This section will focus on the experiences of those who have relocated to Ralkulli, now referred to as Gangei Village,149 however it needs to be noted that equity between the various relocated populations is an issue.150 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Interview with community leader from Sampur, Muttur, November 2012 Gazette Extraordinary No. 1758/26 of 17th May 2012 147 For instance Minister Basil Rajapaksa stated in Parliament in July 2012 that land not needed for development would be returned to the people. (Quoted in Colombage, D. 2012. Development’ Ousts Tamil Families from Sampur, The Sunday Leader, July 7). 148 Interview with new arrivals at Gangei village, November and December 2012. Supported relocation was initially only offered to those who owned land in Sampur but was later extended to include others who did not have ancestral land or those whose ancestral lands were insufficient to meet the needs of all family members, and for newly married couples. 149 CPA carried out a visit to Seethanvelli but there was military camp right opposite and out of concerns for the security of those in the site CPA did not conduct any interviews with those persons.
Those relocated have been provided with a 20 perch plot of land; for some IDPs this is far less than what they owned in their place of origin. In addition to the land, the basic relocation package included 4 months worth of rations from WFP and other forms of specific assistance to address particular needs, including for female-headed households. A key component of the relocation package is a permanent house. Following delays due to lack of materials and flooding of the site in late 2010,151 the houses were officially handed over only in March 2012. However these families had not yet been provided ownership documents as of December 2012. While there have been some efforts at addressing basic infrastructure needs, the lack of potable water during the dry season in particular remains a concern.152 However, the biggest challenge faced by this community is securing livelihoods that can ensure an acceptable standard of living. Interviewed families noted that life was harder now than prior to displacement from Sampur. Many of the IDPs traditionally engaged in fishing or farming and also owned land.153 The relocation areas provide no access to farmland and access to the ocean is limited154 and even where families can access the ocean they do not have the necessary equipment. Furthermore, demand for unskilled labour in the immediate vicinity is limited forcing men to travel to Trincomalee, Polonnaruwa and other districts in search of work. The women who used to work in the fields or engage in poultry farming prior to displacement are now unable to contribute to the household income. However, some members of the relocated population have recently received plants and seeds from the Agriculture Department for their kitchen gardens, which helps supplement family nutritional intake. The interviewed families also drew attention to the fact that there have been no major development projects in the area other than the construction of roads and bridges.155 As the above option demonstrates, even after communities have relocated, there is a clear need to asses whether they have found durable solutions. Relocation is a complex process and demands a more holistic approach to assistance than the mere provision of housing, food rations and some start-up assistance. It must include comprehensive engagement with and support for relocated communities. One relocated IDP noted: “So many NGOs and INGOs collected information from time to time but nothing has happened.”156 In some instances, UN agencies and non-governmental organisations provided limited housing or shelter related assistance but little else. In some relocation sites basic services such as water, sanitation, !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
For instance, amongst IDPs from Sampur there is a disparity in the value of houses provided to those relocated in Seethanweli and Gangei village. Housing in the former was donor driven (built by the military roughly to the value of Rs 350,000) while the in the latter it was owner driven (partially funded by UNDP which provides Rs 565,000 contribution to a house to the value of Rs 1.5 million). (Ministry of Defence, 2012. 56 displaced families receive houses in Muttur. December 17 ; Interview with official at UNDP, November 2012) 151 Interview with a project personnel, Trincomalee, December 2012 152 Limited water facilities were provided by UNHCR and AGA in the form of a common well but some families have invested in a water pump for washing and garden cultivation. (Interview with relocated female person from Sampur, Gangei, November 2012) 153 One of the relocated persons interviewed by CPA stated that they had 2 acres of coconut in addition to cattle, goats and chickens in Sampur. (Interview with relocated female person from Sampur, Gangei) 154 However those relocated to Ralkulli from Navaladi have better access to the ocean as they were relocated earlier than those from Sampur. 155 Interview with relocated families from Sampur, Gangei, November 2012 156 Interview with female relocated person originally from Kaliyankadu, Nawathkuda, November 2012
electricity, access roads and other services were lacking. Meaningful livelihood assistance, including replacing/upgrading livelihood tools or skills is also critical. In addition, there is a clear need for specific assistance to ensure that relocation is sustainable. The option of relocating conflict-affected IDPs needs more serious assessment and study. Given Sri Lanka’s long experience with relocation, particularly for development purposes such as in the Mahaweli Irrigation Scheme, the state can do far more to ensure relocation is a more viable option for relocated persons. The Government also has a set of standards under the National Involuntary Resettlement Policy (NIRP) for development-induced displacement but it appears its application is restricted to the south of the country.157
5.3 Local Integration
In the post-war war context, though local integration has proved to be a de facto and fall back option for many protracted IDPs who may be still considering whether to return or opt for another settlement option, it has received limited attention as a settlement option. One of the more prominent efforts at local integration for ‘Old IDPs’ in the last decade has been the Puttalam Housing Project (PHP) funded by the World Bank supporting Northern Muslim IDPs as well as some of the poorer families from the host community.158 Government officials and to some extent even humanitarian agencies and civil society actors appear to assume that a number of protracted IDPs have locally integrated on the strength of their own capacities, resources and coping strategies with some targeted or general development assistance. Moreover, if IDPs do not choose to return or do not accept an alternative option, the Government appears to assume that they are no longer responsible for such persons, rather than understand and address the underlying reasons. The need for a comprehensive assessment that looks at the extent to which local integration has served as a durable solution is all too apparent, especially given the vulnerability of some of the protracted IDPs in question. A primary challenge is that it is difficult to identify whether IDPs have actually opted for local integration. The fact that IDPs have not returned despite their place of origin being open for settlement is not sufficient to assume that they do not wish to or that they have found durable solutions through local integration. A significant number of Muslim IDPs from western and northern Batticaloa are generally believed to have locally integrated in various places of refuge. Even while CPA did meet some who had been formally registered as IDPs until the end of the war and were receiving rations, CPA also met a number of other IDPs who had registered as residents in their place of refuge a year or two after their displacement in 1990. Having deregistered as IDPs they ceased to receive the assistance due to IDPs, including rations. They !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The NIRP was adopted by the Government of Sri Lanka in 2001 By the end of the project, 4,891 new houses, 1,493 semi permanent houses and 519 temporary houses were constructed. (World Bank, 2012. Project Completion Report, Sri Lanka - Puttalam Housing Project. 16 June, pg. 31) Two surveys were conducted by UNHCR in 2004 and 2006 to ascertain the living conditions of the Puttalam IDPs. The findings of the report was used as the basis for the PHP to justify the construction of permanent and semi-permanent houses for the displaced: “One of the most striking conclusions that can be drawn from the survey results is the fact that the majority of Puttalam IDPs have already de facto locally integrated in Puttalam due to thefact that 74% of the IDPs surveyed claim to have acquired land in Puttalam.”(Report on 2006 Welfare Center Revalidation In Puttalam District. Quote from Executive Summary (no pagination) Available online at http://ihdp.lk/reports/unhcr/UNHCR%20REPORT%20-%202006.pdf Accessed January 30th 2012.)
were, however, able to access development assistance available to residents including access to state land. While some among them have built houses, are able to access key services, and have a level of livelihood security and have therefore opted for local integration, others are more vulnerable and harbour a continuing desire to return although unable to do so for a range of reasons.159 On the other hand, IDPs who do wish to integrate locally may be impeded by problems with access to land, for example. A number of IDPs from the Jaffna HSZ are landless in their place of origin and also do not own land in their place of refuge. The shortage of state land in Jaffna coupled with relatively high cost of private land means that finding affordable alternate land is difficult, often leaving those who wish to locally integrate unable to do so. Many landless IDPs originating from areas within the Tellipallai HSZ have not returned despite their lands being released, preferring to live in welfare centres such as Chunnakam and Nilavan Kudiyiruppu because of better access to services, opportunities and resources. However, since these welfare centres are no longer officially recognised, these IDPs are under threat of being pushed out of their transitional shelters as the owners of the lands on which the shelters stand want to regain control of their land.160 Second generation IDPs who attempt to relocate and are already registered as voters may find it difficult to secure land, especially in areas where land availability is a problem, including in Jaffna and Muslim majority divisions in Batticloa. An officer at the Koralaipattu Central DS Office claimed that the claims of 593 second-generation IDPs who are seeking to locally integrate, requesting land in the division had not yet been approved by the Provincial Land Commissioner.161 Relations with host communities can also be a challenge for IDPs wishing to integrate locally. Some IDPs, such as Tellipallai IDPs living in welfare centres in Jaffna, told CPA that they experienced animosity towards them as the host community saw them as outsiders utilising scant resources. One displaced person from a welfare centre in Jaffna said, “they [the host community] want to make us leave so they can use the land the camp is located on.”162 Differences in social class, caste and area of origin between the displaced and host communities can prove to be an obstacle for amicable relations between the two communities and integration of displaced communities into the area. Achieving a decent standard of living is a challenge for many IDPs who chose local integration. For instance in Boralukanda village, IDPs from the villages of Monaraweva and Gajabapura in Weli Oya/Manel Aru have long been attempting to locally integrate but levels of poverty are high and very evident. Slightly under half of the households (52) are Samurdhi recipients. A key challenge is the lack of or limited livelihood opportunities. Many of these families were originally farming families who had up to 5 acres of land in Weli Oya but in Boralukanda there is no major irrigation scheme that would improve agriculture. A few families want to take up fishing in the nearby tank but because of competition with the host community they are unable to secure !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
159 160 161 162
See pgs. 21- 23. Interview with displaced persons in NilavanKudiyiruppu and Chunnakam Welfare Centres, December 2012 Interview with officer in Koralaipattu Central DS Office, Valaichennai, November 2012 Interview with a displaced person in NilavanKudiyiruupu Welfare Centre, December 2012
access. The IDPs claim that, in addition to seeing them as ‘outsiders’, the host community considers them a source of cheap labour rather than as co-equals.163 Given that IDPs are often attempting to integrate with host communities who may also face many basic deprivations or problems, assistance and development measures should target the community as a whole. For instance, in Ottamavadi some of the IDPs reside in the more congested areas of the town where access to clean water and adequate drainage is already a key challenge.164 Furthermore, there needs to be emphasis on addressing the infrastructure needs in areas with a heavy concentration of IDPs who have locally integrated.
5.4 Reconfiguring Assistance to Further Durable Solutions
It is evident that IDPs pursuing return, local integration or relocation, face many serious challenges in achieving durable solutions. Even though IDP communities may differ significantly in terms of their histories, experiences and current situations, it is clear that there are several similar concerns and issues. The cookie cutter model of assistance currently in place offers little room to deal with complex ground realities and does need to be reconfigured in several important ways: 1. Assistance itself must be understood in its widest sense, whether material, financial or provision of essential infrastructure and services, and its scope and scale must encompass a longer-term vision of socio-economic integration. 2. Assistance as well as compensation and restitution must be informed by a comprehensive enumeration of IDPs and assessment of their current situations and needs as well as changes in assets, access to resources and rights prior to and during displacement. 3. In deciding whether assistance should be provided in specific areas or to particular populations, instead of merely looking at the general situation of a specific displaced community, there is a need to look to the state of individual families. This includes second generation IDPs who sometimes may get ignored in terms of recognition and specific types of assistance. 4. It is also necessary to review the current assistance available to IDPs and make alternative provisions, especially in cases where the basic assistance package cannot be offered for reasons of eligibility. The Government also needs to look at extending existing development assistance to formerly displaced populations as well as development projects in return areas or locations with high concentrations of locally integrated IDPs are also critical to ensuring durable solutions. 5. Targeted assistance is required for highly vulnerable groups including female-headed households, the elderly and disabled. 6. Equity and consistency in levels of assistance is also key. As already pointed out, ‘OId’ and ‘New’ IDPs have had different levels of assistance, with the former being disadvantaged in many ways. However, levels of assistance can be unequal even within the same IDP community. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Interviews with displaced from Monaraweva and Gajabapura, Boralukanda, December 2012 See Annex 2
7. Security of livelihood is a key challenge facing all IDPs. However, in order to be effective, livelihood assistance must go beyond providing equipment, such as boats, and/or skills training to include access to resources (such as ocean access or fishing rights). Smaller projects expanding the productive assets of households and supplementing incomes or providing additional food, such as kitchen gardens, are also considered useful by IDPs. 8. Assistance must address questions of land claims including landlessness, restoration of lost land documents, and a fair mechanism to resolve land disputes, involving state or private land. A credible and participatory approach, facilitated by the civilian administration,165 is crucial not only to addressing title claims and fostering greater livelihood and food security but to defuse possible inter-ethnic tensions often embedded in land disputes. 9. Policies of assistance must also account for troubled histories of inter-ethnic relations and note that return, relocation and local integration could all have significant ethno-political dimensions. For instance, the return of ‘Old IDPs’ often implies re-mixing ethnic communities long separated by the conflict, such as Muslims returning to the North or Sinhalese communities returning to Jaffna and Weli Oya/Manal Aru. Administrative officers, including those at the DS and GS levels, but also other state actors who are involved in these issues, including the military, need to be sensitised to the issues faced by returnees and confidence-building measures need to be initiated, between and within communities and between communities and government officials. This is particularly vital in managing specific disputes, especially over occupation of land.
The Government is expected to put forward a new circular to address land issues. In July 2011, the Government presented a circular titled ‘Regulating Activities Relating to the Management of Lands in the Northern and Eastern Provinces’ (Circular No 2011/04) which addressed a number of key problems including documentation, land disputes and landlessness but it had a number of flaws and was withdrawn by the Government following legal challenges.
Notwithstanding progress in terms of dealing with conflict-related displacement in the country, it is evident that there are significant challenges to be met. As the findings in this report make clear, there is a need to focus on protracted IDPs, including communities who are assumed to have found durable solutions through return, local integration or relocation. Without a better understanding of the complex ground realities, it will be difficult, if not impossible to ensure that protracted displacement will be substantively addressed. Hence, it is imperative that all actors, especially the Government, take note of the concerns of IDPs highlighted by this report, including the fact that protracted IDPs include not just ‘Old IDPs’ but also those more recently displaced who are far from durable solutions. As such it is imperative to make a concerted effort to develop a comprehensive response to their needs, rights and choices. In addition, identifying problems faced by war-affected populations and regions in general will strengthen the overall recovery process. This would not only ensure that those affected by displacement will be better able to re-build their lives which were shattered by the conflict but it would also facilitate Sri Lanka’s transition from a post-war to a post-conflict society.
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