Displaced Community In Mullikulam Forced To Settle In Jungle
By Maryam Azwer
Around 175 displaced families, originally from Mullikulam, in Musali, Mannar, have been residing in the jungle close to their original homes for over a week after being told that they could not return to their previous places of residence.
According to rights activist, Herman Kumara, of local NGO NAFSO, these people had been asked by the military to leave their homes in 2007. Since then, they had resided as IDPs in surrounding areas, but had recently attempted to return to their original homes.
Meanwhile, Mannar Bishop, Rev. Rayappu Joseph, said that he had been writing to the president regarding this matter since 2010. He also said that a representative of the Ministry of Defence had visited the area shortly afterwards, and a request had been made to resettle these people, if not in their village, at least as close as possible to the village.
However, the Bishop said, the issue had never been followed up on, and the village has been taken over by the navy.
When contacted, Navy Spokesperson, Commander Kosala Warnakulasuriya, said that these people were allowed to visit their church although it was in a navy controlled area, and that they had been given land by the government.
Another activist, Sunesh Croos, also from NAFSO, however, said that the resettlement of these people had not been looked into properly by the government, and that they had just settled down in the jungle with the barest of facilities.
He said that up until now, these people have had to depend on dry ration donations in order to get by.
Bishop Rayappu Joseph also said that the displaced people of Mullikulam, who had been engaged in fishing and farming, had long since lost their livelihoods, and were continuing to face hardships, particularly after having to settle in the jungle. “They are staying there in the hopes that something may happen,” he said.