- MAG is enabling people displaced by conflict in northern Sri Lanka to return to their homes in safety
- 400 families to return after MAG surveys five villages in Mannar District
- MAG now plans to move into other areas to continue supporting the return of internally displaced people through survey and clearance of villages
Mr Soosai Marathin is able to return home, having fled in 2007, now that MAG has surveyed his village.
[Photos: Bekim Shala/MAG]
“God, I hope my house is not destroyed, I hope my machines are still there, I hope my church is intact.” These were some of the prayers whispered by Mr Soosai Marathin from the back of the vehicle as he accompanied MAG’s Community Liaison team to his village, Marathanmadhu, in the Mannar District of northern Sri Lanka.
Sixty-year-old Mr Marathin, the head of a small church and owner of a rice mill, had to flee Marathanmadhu with his family in September 2007 after seeing people from the neighbouring Muslim village leaving their homes quickly with only the belongings they had managed to pack in a hurry. War was approaching and the area was no longer safe.
Mannar District is the first area of northern Sri Lanka prioritised for the return of people displaced by conflict, with MAG asked to survey five villages in Musali Division before the Government Agent of Mannar District coordinates the return of over 400 families to these villages.
Mine action survey: MAG Community Liaison Officers Loges and Ganga interview people from Koolankulam village currently living in Murungapitti Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp. The villagers have been living in the camp since September 2007, but can now return home in the next few weeks following the MAG survey, as no risk of mines or unexploded ordnance was identified.
It took the MAG team 10 days to complete their survey and when they concluded on 16 April that the area has only a low threat of Remnants of Conflict, Mr Marathinwent back to his village with the MAG team and his smile returned.
His machines were there, the house was standing, requiring only minor repair, and the church was intact. Following the survey, the Government’s plans to grant access for the villagers and allow them to return home to rebuild their lives can go ahead.
Plans have been made for people to return to Marathanmadhu from 28 April.
The MAG team drove Mr Marathin back to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp he has been living in, where many of the other villagers were waiting to hear the news about the village from him.
Plans have been made for people to return from 28 April. The villagers can move home safely and restart paddy cultivation and fishing as their traditional livelihood activities. The MAG team now plans to move into other areas to continue supporting the return of IDPs through survey and clearance of villages, in line with the resettlement efforts.
Marathanmadhu is a beautiful village with fertile soil and is surrounded by dams that irrigate large areas of paddy cultivation. Most of the village is intact, though as it was empty, wildlife, and especially elephants, settled in the area and continue to damage some of the buildings.
MAG is grateful to partner organisation Stichting Vluchteling for providing funding towards the initial stages of this vital work.
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20 April 09
MAG's work in Sri Lanka is supported by: Actiefonds Mijnen Ruimen (AMR); Allan and Nesta Ferguson Charitable Trust; Embassy of Japan, Colombo; Hurvis Trust; Kirby Laing Foundation; Rowan Trust; Stichting Vluchteling