Nov 12, Colombo: A conference to address the issue of evicted Northern Muslims will be held on 16 November at the BMICH in Colombo.
Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa will be the Chief Guest at the confab titled "Commemorating the 22nd year of the Forcible Eviction of Muslims from the Northern Province".
Minister Rajapaksa will be joined by the Minister of Resettlement Gunaratne Weerakoon at the conference organized by the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka. High level Muslim community members and dignitaries and representatives from stakeholders are expected to attend the event.
The conference aims to focus the attention on the plight of more than 60,000 Tamil-speaking Muslim people evicted from the Northern Province by the Tamil Tiger terrorist group LTTE in October 1990.
Following the 24-hour eviction from the North at gun point, the displaced Muslims settled in refugee camps in the Puttalam district and other parts of Sri Lanka.
Their future remains still uncertain 22 years after they have been evicted and thousands of them are still languishing in camps without being able to return to their original homes in the North even three years after the war ended.
After the end of the war and with the restoration of normalcy the displaced Muslims have expressed their wish to return to their original homes but several matters are complicating their return.
Around 22,000 displaced families were re-settled across the Northern Province but now they complaint that they have been given not their original residences but alternative lands without basic facilities, and have no means of livelihood.
The returnees had to give up their IDP registration in Puttalam and therefore not eligible for food rations.
Also the displaced Muslim population has expanded from the original 80,000 in 1990 to over 125,000 now.
"The sad part of their return and resettlement process is that these returnees have not been resettled properly and effectively mainly due to want of shelter, water and other basic infrastructure facilities" said Rishad Bathiyutheen, Minister of industry and Commerce and Vanni District MP said.
The Muslim Council hopes to take up the issue of evicted Northern Muslims actively at the conference.