Mannar Bishop donates land to families displaced after Sri Lankan navy takes possession of village "for security reasons"
by Melani Manel Perera
Mullikkulam village has been transformed into a Navy outpost. In exchange families have been offered the Kayakuli area in the middle of the jungle. But for its deforestation, all borne by the population, no help has come from government and non-profit organizations.
Mgr Rayappu Joseph, bishop of Mannar, has donated a piece of land to 52 Tamil Catholic families who were displaced from their village of Mullikkulam (Mannar district), so that they can build homes and start a new life there . The Sri Lankan navy has in fact taken possession of the village "for security reasons", without providing further explanation to the expelled inhabitants.
Fr. Victor Soosai, vicar general of the diocese, said in the northwest of the Naval Commando Navy was erected in Mullikkulam. The 287 families living there, were offered in exchange the Kayakuli area: a piece of land in the jungle, eight kilometres from the Chilawathurai junction. Of these, 125 families have accepted the offer, because of difficulties related to living with the host families.
"The main problem – says Fr. Soosai - is fishing: at Valkaipettankandal, where they are now, it's almost impossible to fish. At least there's room to fish in Kayakuli". The vicar general denounces that the cost and actual deforestation of the jungle is falling on the shoulders of the families: they have received no help from government or from any non-governmental organization.
The proposal made by the government was not accepted by all. "52 Mullikulam families have written a letter to Msgr. Joseph, rejecting resettlement in Kayakuli and asking for a place to go. " No family has agreed to accept any alternative venue, if not their own village. On receipt of the letter, the bishop of the diocese gave them the Tharavankottai area, four miles south-west of Mannar, owned by the Bishop of Mannar.
The Catholic Tamil village of Mullikkulam is located about 80 km from the town of Mannar has a long history dating back 300 years. The families who lived there have always lived by fishing and agriculture. The first internally displaced persons (IDPs) date back to 1991, during the first phase of the civil war. In 2007, with renewed conflict, there was a new wave of IDPs.
At the moment, more than 327 thousand people throughout the country are still displaced, after thirty years of conflict which ended in May 2009. At least 195 thousand people have returned to their places of origin, but are not yet self-sufficient and are in need of protection and assistance. ~ courtesy: AsiaNews.it ~