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Over 500 Muslim IDPs languish in capital’s ‘hell compound’ 28 years after eviction
Published Date: 07/06/2018 (Thursday)

A shocking number of internally-displaced families evicted from Jaffna region in the 1990s continue to languish homeless after 28 years of their initial displacement in a highly-unsanitary compound that borders Colombo.

“Every year our religious fasting season arrives, giving us hope, but then it ends with sadness. We continue to helplessly witness it from this camp but there is no end to our suffering,” said N.M. Haniffa, a member of the Displaced Northern Muslims’ Camp at Crow Island, Mutwal (Mattakkuliya), speaking to Minister of Industry and Commerce and Wanni District MP Rishad Bathiudeen when he visited the IDP camp on the afternoon of 4 June.

Haniffa is one resident, a head of a family at the Displaced Northern Muslims’ Camp at Crow Island, Mutwal (Mattakkuliya). With his family are another 117 displaced Muslim families from Jaffna, Mannar and Batticaloa, packed in the crowded, muddy hell of a Crow Island compound, a former school building which was also inundated during the 2004 tsunami, along with refugees. The total number of displaced persons in this camp has now grown to 560. Bathiudeen has already committed himself to the relief work of northern Muslim IDPs.

“Next year we will complete the 29th year of our displacement, as well as our life in this camp. To date no political representatives or officials have come to meet us to inquire into our plight. Therefore we are thankful that you visited us finally. We also face serious health issues and illnesses due to lack of housing, sanitation facilities, and lack of toilets,” said Haniffa.

He added: “Each family received a Rs. 1,230 monthly subsistence stipend and it was discontinued after 2004. We have lost all our properties in Jaffna, Mannar and Batticaloa and there is no way to return and reclaim them since we do not have much proof or livelihood opportunities there. We request housing facilities for us here.”

Bathiudeen informed the IDPS that he understood their suffering. “I and my family too were evicted from the Northern Province in 1990 and I can understand what you face. I shall discuss your housing and sanitary issues immediately with our Housing Minister Sajith Premadasa. I shall also discuss with officials for a relief package.”

Among the 24,000 northern Muslim families expelled overnight from their traditional homes on 1990 October 30 was Rishad Bathiudeen’s eight-member family.

Source: Daily FT

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