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World News \ Asia

S. Lankan presidents hands 100 new homes to Jaffna IDPs ‎

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena (R) meeting Tamil residents in the eastern town of Muttur, August 22, 2015.  - AFP

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena (R) meeting Tamil residents in the eastern town of Muttur, August 22, 2015. - AFP

05/11/2016 16:33

Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena has handed over a hundred new houses to the ‎internally displaced people (IDPs) living in camps in the Tamil-majority north of the island nation.  "We ‎can finally live in peace. We can thank our president for this settlement" some of the beneficiaries told ‎AsiaNews.  The houses were built in record time (four months) in Keeramalai, on the Jaffna peninsula ‎as a result of his visit to the Konartpulam IDP camp in ‎Tellippalai, Kankasenthurai, shortly after his election.  Inaugurated on 31 ‎October in a solemn ceremony, the houses were built by the army, but also by former Tamil Tiger rebels ‎and the beneficiaries themselves.  ‎ The ‎Keeramalai Housing Project covers an area of 47 acres, near the Palaly army cantonment area. It also ‎has a community centre, a fish market, a police station, a playground and a nursery.‎

This initiative is not the first of its kind. The president has already returned land to its rightful Tamil ‎owners who had had it expropriated during the three decades of civil war.  When he met some of the ‎IDPs, he was shocked that some were still living in tents after more than 20 years.  After that meeting, ‎Sirisena ordered the Ministry of Defence to build the houses and close the refugee camp as soon as ‎possible.  Various regiments worked day and night to deliver the houses, each measuring 50 sqm. with ‎two bedrooms, a living room, a dining room with kitchen, and a bathroom.   

When the keys were handed over to new residents, they could not hide their emotion. One of them, ‎Rasamani Sivaneshwaram, 46, spent half his life in tents. "We are grateful to the president,” he said. ‎‎“This means a lot to me and my family. We have the security of a home in which to sleep."  (Source:AsiaNews) 

05/11/2016 16:33