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500 HOUSES FOR WAR REFUGEES IN PUTTLAM WHO WERE CHASED OUT FROM JAFFNA BY PRABHAKARAN IN 1990; FOUNDATION FOR ANOTHER 500 LAID

By Walter Jayawardhana

A 500 house first phase of a housing complex for Puttlam’s war refugees built under a humanitarian project of the United Arab Emirates was declared open , WAM newsagency reported.

The agency report said, Jamal Al Turaifi, director general of Sharjah Secretariat General for Auqaf - a religious body carrying out developmental projects for the poor around the world - inaugurated the housing complex Monday.April 7.

The 500 houses city was donated by Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council member and ruler of Sharjah, The housing scheme came as a big relief for thousands of people who have been living in shanty houses, tents and even open spaces for almost 17 years since Velupillai Prabhakaran ordered them to leave Jaffna within 48 hours leaving all their belongings and allowing them to take three hundred Sri Lankan Rupees only.

The Washington based Refugees International reported their grim plight as follows: “In the early 1990s, the LTTE had de facto control over most of the northern Jaffna peninsula. In October1990, the LTTE decided to evict the Muslim population of Jaffna, approximately 100,000 people, with two days notice. The Muslims were told to leave the North within 48 hours or face death. They were carefully searched by the LTTE prior to their departure and all their possessions and valuables were taken away from them. They were permitted to carry with them 300 Rupees (about $3 US) for transportation out of Jaffna and a change of clothes. Thousands of Muslims fled to the area of Puttalam in western Sri Lanka, where they have lived for more than a decade.”

UAE Ambassador in Colombo said the refugee city was one of the major projects ever built in Sri Lanka mainly for the war affected population.

Later on the day Sri Lanka’s Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services Minister Rishad Bathiudeen and Jalal Al Turaifi laid foundation stones for the second phase of the refugee housing project , that would also provide another 500 houses under the same plan.

UAE's Ambassador to Sri Lanka Mahmoud Al Mahmoud, Sri Lankan Minister for Labour Athauda Seneviratne, Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services Minister Rishad Bathiudeen and several other dignitaries and top officials attended the inauguration ceremony.

Speaking at the ceremony Minister Bathiudeen on behalf of the Sri Lankan government thanked the Sharjah ruler for his humanitarian efforts to alleviate the suffering of poor and displaced people.

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