Monday, November 29, 1999

Civil war damaged 2.6 lakh houses in Lanka: Red Cross

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The battle between Sri Lankan security forces and the LTTE during the last phase of the 'Eelam IV War' has damaged about 2.6 lakh houses in the Tamil dominated North, according to a recent study."Government and humanitarian actors estimate that some 2,60,000 houses are in need of rebuilding and reconstruction," the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said in the study.It is also expected that a secondary movement of those people living with host families will take place as safe areas will be announced and released for residential use, it said.The Red Cross also said as many as 2.07 lakh IDPs have been released from the welfare villages in North and only 80,246 people remain in such camps in Vavuniya, Mannar andJaffna districts.Efforts are also on to expedite the rehabilitation measures, with the new Sri Lankan government hoping to complete the process of rehabilitation of the internally displaced persons who left their homes during the height of civil war, within the next six months.Although mine-clearing activities are ongoing and more areas are being made safer, there are locations across northern Sri Lanka with significant explosive remnants of war, exposing returnees as well as the resident population to significant risks, the Red Cross said, adding a large extent of land along the eastern coastal belt of Northern Province is also to be cleared of mines.While the needs of the affected people are numerous, assistance is also limited as some of the Sri Lanka Red Cross Societies branches in the North have poor access to the branch buildings, the Red Cross said.

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