Tsunami temporary camp becomes permanent abode

By Jeevani Pereira
A?a??A?TemporaryA?a??A? shelters are threatening to become a permanent part of the landscape in some parts of the east of Sri Lanka. The most of the tsunami temporary shelters put up two years ago in the East still remain occupied by people who are slowly losing hope that they will ever receive the permanent housing they were promised. To worsen matters a new dilemma has entered their lives, the possibility of being evicted by the end of the year by original landowners of these shelters.

At Aridadithottam camp in the Ampara district, 100 families have been already evicted by the landowner who wanted the 10 acres for his personal building purposes. With no place to live the families were reported to return to the 55m buffer zone areas where they were originally from. In some of the shelters the landowners have broken down most of the shelters A?a??a??which some of them call the A?a??E?second tsunamiA?a??a??.

Living mostly on privately owned land for which the government pays rent, most of these landowners want their land back before a six year completion when the people living there will be able to claim rights to it. However, as by law, construction cannot be done from the sea to a certain distance inland as most of the tsunami victims never had deeds in the first place.

Camps in Nindavur, Karaitivu and Sainthamadu in Ampara are all facing the same problem. Besides worries of basic survival, hundreds of families are on tenterhooks as to when they would be asked to leave.

In a camp at Karaitivu more than 50 families spoke of how after several attempts, they still had neither houses nor land.

With no deed for lands they occupied prior to tsunami. the government is refusing these people permanent housing. Furthermore, the landowner of the area had given them till January to vacate the premises. A?a??A? If that happens we will be forced to go back to the 55m buffer zone,A?a??A? Kangamma, an occupant of one of the temporary shelters said. A?a??A?And in the future if any life is lost as a result it will be the governmentA?a??a??s fault.A?a??A?

Where to order cytotec Day by day life becomes harder and harder, Kangamma said, particularly when the camp is flooded during the rains and the toilets overflow. A?a??A?There were people to clean the toilets earlier but they stopped coming after a while. The Municipal Council came once and never came again. The irony is they distribute leaflets on Chikungunya to clean our environment but the Public Health Inspector has only come here only once during this two year period,A?a??A? she said

Feeling ignored and frustrated, most of these families are only receiving support from some local organizations and INGOs. It is a day to day struggle to live in these camps. A?a??A?We have lost everything for the tsunami and now we are going to lose again,A?a??A? said Buwana Sellathangam from the Karaitivu camp

Altace for sale online A?a??A?The government authorities ask us to buy land and for them to build houses for us but when we donA?a??a??t have enough money to survive, how could we find Rs 300,000 required to buy a plot of land?,A?a??A? she questioned.

At the Aerolanka camp in Ninthavur 13 families have received land and have been promised to construct houses by the government but still seven remain landless two years after the tsunami. Salma and Jezeema, mother and daughter who now live in the camp said, A?a??A?We too lived in the 55m buffer zone. We spoke to the Grama Sevaka and though initially they promised to give us land they later told us to show our deeds.A?a??A? They who lived by the sea had no deeds they said.

A?a??A?Even those who had been promised by the government to give houses are not sure when it would be done,A?a??A? continued Jezeema adding that though promised in January. they hope the houses would be completed by December 2007.

The situation in Sainthamadu MFCB temporary shelter is not any better. Scores of men and women said that the landowner wanted to evict them some time back and they are not sure as to when he would return and ask them to leave.

A?a??A?Government authorities came and wrote down the number of people living here and asked us where we wanted to live. They told us that construction work of houses was going but we donA?a??a??t know when we are getting it,A?a??A? some of the women said adding that they found it difficult to live in the shelters any longer as there were snakes and insects creeping in.

Thus two years after the disaster many tsunami affected families, particularly in the north and east of the country, still struggle to live trying to avoid reliving the disaster. Surrounded by tin walls and leaking cadjan roofs they are still close to giving into their fears.

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