UN envoy lauds Govt
Says IDP numbers in Menik Farm have halved:
Holmes impressed with Govt’s commitment :
United Nations Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and
Emergency Relief Coordinator, Sir John Holmes said he was extremely
encouraged and impressed by the rapid resettlement of the IDPs in
Sir John Holmes.
Picture by Ruwan de Silva
Holmes made these statements at a joint press briefing at the Foreign
Ministry with Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama.
Holmes was in Sri Lanka on a three-day tour on an invitation by the
Foreign Minister. He visited Jaffna, Vavuniya and Menik Farm, while
spending a night in Jaffna.
During his visit, he had also been briefed extensively on the
In answer to a question whether the UN thinks that the 180-day
timeframe set by the Government for resettlement could be kept, Sir John
Holmes replied that timeframes are not important but what is important
is the commitment of the Government which has impressed him.
He had held extensive discussions with President Mahinda Rajapaksa,
Justice and Law Reforms Minister Milinda Moragoda, Disaster Management
and Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe and Senior Presidential
Advisor Basil Rajapaksa MP on a wide range of issues covering IDP
resettlement, political and the de-mining process.
Stating that it was his fourth visit to Sri Lanka, Holmes said he had
been to IDP camps and spoke with the IDPs. He said the UN had previously
entertained concerns over the timing of the resettlement.
However, this process had seen a rapid change over the past three
months, with the number of IDPs in Menik Farm having been nearly halved
from its initial figure of 285,000 to 135,000.
One of the chief concerns of the UN diplomat was the fundamental
issue of freedom of movement. He had discussed this extensively in his
meetings with the President and Ministers, and said that he was greatly
encouraged by the positive feedback received on the return to
He specially credited the reopening of the A9 road as playing an
important step in this process.
Speaking on the progress and potential of development in Sri Lanka,
Holmes said he was concerned about the long term process of
reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement.
He stated that the UN hopes to work with the Government to accelerate
this process, providing donations of food, healthcare services and
education, as well as transport and infrastructure development.