June 06, Colombo: Muslim families, who were evicted by the LTTE from Jaffna region in 1990 and living in a camp that borders Colombo 28 years after their initial displacement, met with the Minister of Industry and Commerce and Vanni district MP Rishad Bathiudeen recently.
A shocking number of displaced Muslim families are still living in a highly unsanitary camp at Crow Island, Mutwal (Mattakkuliya) met Minister Bathiudeen when he visited the IDP camp on the afternoon of 4 June.
"Every year our religious fasting season arrives, giving us hopes but then it ends with sadness. We continue to helplessly witness it from this camp but there is no end to our suffering," said NM Haniffa, a resident of the Displaced Northern Muslimís camp in Mutwal.
Haniffa is one resident, a head of a family at the Displaced Northern Muslimís camp at Crow Island, Mutwal (Mattakkuliya). With his family are another 117 displaced Muslim families from Jaffna, Mannar and Batticaloa, packed to the crowded, muddy hell of a Crow Island compound, a former school building which was also inundated during the 2004 Tsunami - along with the refugees. The total number of displaced persons in this camp has now grown to 560.
Minister Bathiudeen has already committed himself to the relief work of Northern Muslim IDPs.
"Next year we will complete 29th year of our displacement, as well as our life in this camp. To-date no political representative nor 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 that each family received Rs 1230 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."
Minister Bathiudeen informed the IDPS that he understood their suffering and promised to take measures to provide a permanent solution.
"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 by the LTTE was the eight-member family of Minister Rishad Bathiudeen.