Development-based strategy needed for durable solutions for IDPs in Sri Lanka: UN rapporteur

Friday, 13 December 2013 00:03 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Geneva: While the Sri Lankan Government has made great progress in resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) after the end of the conflict in 2009, constructing a development-based strategy for durable solutions for the IDPs is essential, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of IDPs, Dr. Chaloka Beyani has said after his visit to the island. During his visit from 2 to 6 December, the Special Rapporteur visited various sites of displacement and met with displaced persons and local authorities as well as government ministers. “After having made impressive strides in rebuilding infrastructure destroyed during the conflict, post conflict reconstruction in Sri Lanka should also focus on addressing durable solutions for all IDPs and those who have returned to their areas of origin on a comprehensive basis,” Dr. Beyani following his visit said in a statement. The Rapporteur has noted that durable solutions needs of IDPs in conditions of safety and dignity need to be addressed and it is important to set out a cohesive policy brief with benchmarks to bring real closure to the issue of internal displacement in Sri Lanka. Dr. Beyani has noted that meaningful consultation and participation of IDPs in shaping solutions to their displacement are essential to guarantee the durability and legitimacy of solutions. “It is essential to ensure that the durable solutions process is done voluntarily, with the informed consent and participation of IDPs, with all durable solutions, that is return, local integration or settlement elsewhere in the country as available options,” he has stressed adding that the follow-up action plan to the Lessons Learned Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and recommendations formulated in the Human Rights Action Plan provide valuable guidance. The Rapporteur commended the Government for its great progress in resettling over 450,000 IDPs displaced during the conflict. IDP rights equally important He noted that in a period of four years after the end of the conflict in 2009, the Government has made great progress in fostering economic development and building infrastructure, including in those areas the country which bore the brunt of the armed conflict. Demining in return areas, the rebuilding of roads, bridges, schools, hospitals and houses, as well as the release of some land to their original owners allowed many IDPs to return and go back to their traditional livelihood of farming and fishing, he observed. However, the rapporteur pointed out that a significant number of IDPs still live in protracted displacement, and tens of thousands others who have returned or have been settled elsewhere in the north live in very precarious conditions and need more durable housing, access to social services, and the creation of livelihood opportunities. “Of equal importance is an environment allowing the resettled and remaining IDPs to exercise their property rights, receive information on missing family members and access legal services,” he highlighted. While former fighters have been formally demobilised and rehabilitated, they continue to face difficulties in terms of durable solutions as monitoring and control measures by security forces limit their ability to find employment, the rapporteur observed. According to Dr. Beyani, key issues to address include protection of the physical integrity and bodily autonomy of women and girls and their reproductive rights, of children, feasible access to land, and a proportionate balance between justifiable military concerns of national security and freedom of movement and choice of place for IDPs seeking to return to their original places of residence. D. Beyani also suggested allowing the civil society to operate in accordance with international norms, namely without undue restrictions and interference from the authorities including in terms of monitoring and reporting.