The biggest challenge is militarisation ?

army-conflict-last-daysThe  NGO, Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) and the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO) published a 50 page report titled ‘Under the Military’s Shadow’, reviewing the situation for the local communities on the Tamil dominated Jaffna Peninsula in the North of Sri Lanka. The Society for Threatened Peoples is a Swiss organisation that documents and raises awareness of human rights violations against persecuted minorities.

The report says that even though the war ended seven years ago, tens of thousands of people are still internally displaced on the Jaffna Peninsula. Several thousand of them continue to live in IDP Camps, where the precarious living conditions are not adequate for families, particularly women-headed families.

The biggest challenge for the local population is militarisation. The military presence has not reduced since the end of the war. Consequently, the former inhabitants lost their access to land and sea, which has destroyed their livelihood. Furthermore, the commercial activities of the military, like tourism and agriculture, deprive local communities of an important income source. The Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) is releasing some areas of land from the former HSZ to the public. Other parts will, however, remain occupied as the “Palaly Cantonment” (former HSZ).

The government is resettling IDPs on the released land. Some of the IDPs were resettled on their traditional land where fishing and farming is possible. The other resettlement areas, where people were resettled without their consent, are mostly unsuitable for agriculture and fishing. Therefore, they cannot develop their traditional livelihood.

Economic growth on the Jaffna Peninsula also remains very low, poverty rates are high and youth unemployment has become a structural problem. Furthermore, due to Indian trawling boats and migrating fishers from the south of Sri Lanka the fish resources are being destroyed and the fishing quota of the local traditional fishermen is falling drastically.

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