OMP recommends inclusion of families of disappeared in COVID-19 relief measures

Thursday, 9 April 2020 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}



  • Writes to President for assistance
  • Says many families in extremely difficult situation, especially female-headed households
  • 2019 Budget allocation to give Rs. 6000 monthly relief stopped in Nov. 

The Office of Missing Persons (OMP) yesterday recommended that families of the missing and disappeared be included in any proposed relief measures, including the provision of food and financial assistance in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

OMP Chairperson Saliya Pieris P.C., in a letter addressed to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, said that as a short-term measure, the OMP recommends that dry rations be provided to families of the missing and disappeared through Grama Niladharis. Grama Niladharis have already collected information regarding the missing and disappeared in their local area, and such lists could be used to avoid duplication in instances where such families are also beneficiaries under other State assistance schemes for vulnerable persons.

The OMP, acknowledging in its Interim Report of August 2018 the extreme poverty faced by some families, recommended a range of interim relief measures for the most vulnerable among families of the missing and disappeared pending the award of a reparations package. In response to one of the interim relief measures recommended by the OMP, the Government proposed to allocate Rs. 500 million in the 2019 Budget to provide Rs. 6,000 monthly relief to families of missing and disappeared persons, including members of the armed forces and Police identified as missing in action on the condition of them of possessing a Certificate of Absence.

“According to information received by the OMP, interim relief payments valued at approximately Rs. 11 million have been paid to 153 beneficiaries, up to 11 November 2019. The OMP observes that in many cases, the most vulnerable among families of the missing and disappeared are elderly and are female-headed households and survive on the daily wages of one family member. The prevailing situation in the country has had dire consequences on these families, as they are no longer able to earn their wages and they have limited or no assets,” the letter said.