(March 19, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Douglas Devananda, Minister of Social Services and Social Welfare and Chairman of Special Task Committee, Northern Province, visited the “Kathirgamar” Welfare Camp (Menik Farm) on the last 15th and inquired into the health of the internally displaced people temporarily housed in the camp.
Minister speaking to the camp inmates said “You all, displaced from your homesteads in Wanni now temporarily housed in this camp are our own people, presently under the caring hands of His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapakse’s Government. In the days gone by you all were under the jackboot of merciless Tiger Leadership who didn’t show an iota of respect for human life, denied you of your basic human rights, caused you immense sufferings and that you have the bitter experience of destruction brought to you, to your beloved children and loved ones by the Tiger Leadership”.
Minister Devananda speaking further said “In the past so many years by supporting Tiger Leadership due to various reasons, you have brought down your own downfall, you yourselves invited misery to your lives, from now on mobilize yourselves to act with clear headedness and tread the correct path of life inculcating social, spiritual and ethical values”. The Minister added that plans are underway by His Excellency the President to implement developmental activities to trickle down tangible benefits to the displaced in the camp.
The Minister also said that before his visit to the ‘Farm’ he had had discussion with His Excellency the President, Basil Rajapakse, Member of Parliament and Senior Advisor to the President and Mr. Gothabhaya Rajapakse, Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and came to meet them for ensuring their right to live. He added that he would obtain all the details concerning the displaced families from the Government Agent, Vavuniya and afterwards would work out plans for reunion of the families.
Minister Devananda also said that he would have discussions with His Excellency the President to obtain help and support from Non-governmental Organizations, Tamil Diaspora and International Community for immediate commencement of developmental activities for the benefit of the displaced. He added that when once matters concerning security of the Wanni area are finalized he would take necessary steps to re-settle the displaced, and that if anyone was with the idea that the displaced would be permanently housed, the Government had no such intention.
The Minister requested the inmates of the ‘Farm’ to appoint a committee and through it to forward to him, their problems in writing so that he would be able to take appropriate action to solve them.
The inmates of the camp were extremely happy to see the Minister and welcomed him with open arms. They said that they had now realized who their true leader was and were awaiting impatiently for the Minister to arrive. They urged the Minister to establish an office at the camp with a coordinating officer so that they could direct their problems to the Minister.
At this meeting the inmates made it a point to present their grievances to the Minister. The Minister assured them that he would direct their grievances to His Excellency the President and thereafter take steps to solve them at his earliest.