Thursday, August 01, 2013

Displaced and abandoned: IDPs at Konappulam camp cry out for legal action

               Text and pix by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

View during heavy rain

 Woman wading through water to enter her house
Flooded Konappulam camp

 Flood water around the camp

"Our house was occupied by the forces in Mylitty. I used to be a fisherman, but since my displacement 23 years ago, I have been forced to switch jobs, and am currently a day labourer. We now live far away from the sea, and the distance prevents me from practicing my traditional occupation" says an Internally Displaced Person from Mylitty Sellakkandu Gunaratnam in total frustration.

 Sellakkandu Gunaratnam at his thatched dwelling

They individuals were long-established fishermen and farmers in the North. Their lielihood was their family heritage. War and displacement, however left many of them shattered; their equipments and occupations were lost. For 23 years, they have lived away from what they call their true homes.

There are 240 families translating into 920 persons inhabiting the Mallaakam Konappulam Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in the Jaffna District.They were originally from Mylitty, Thaiyitty and Oorani, but were displaced  in 1990. Nearly 5,000 Internally Displaced Persons have decided to fight a legal battle for their land rights” Chairman of Valikaamam North Pradesha Sabha (PS) Somasuntharam Sugirthan said.

In times of heavy rain, the entire area gets flooded. People are housed in thatched dwellings with minimum facilities, including common wells, and toilets as well as limited sanitary facilities for women.

 Muddy water into thatched dwellings

There is no privacy. Women have to go to the common wells and toilets even at night. Although the war has ended, we are prevented from re-entering our houses and owning our properties” Selvi Gunaratnam lamented.

 Selvi Gunaratnam and her husband Sellakkandu Gunaratnam have lost hope to return to their place of origin

 Firewood used in rural areas in Jaffna

This camp has less facilities for girls and women

Women at a silent prayer

People here complain that nobody visits them to see their welfare

COURTESY: Ceylon Today


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