Sirisena pledges land for 100,000 war victims

Updated 03 January 2016

Sirisena pledges land for 100,000 war victims

COLOMBO: Up to 100,000 people still living in camps six years after the end of Sri Lanka’s brutal ethnic war will be given land to build homes within six months, President Maithripala Sirisena told AFP Sunday.
“It is an ambitious target, but I will see that all the internally displaced people are given land to build homes,” the president said in an interview. “I am setting up a mechanism to complete this process within six months.”
Sirisena, elected last January, has won praise for starting to hand back land after the end of one of South Asia’s longest and bloodiest ethnic wars, pitting the government against Tamil separatists.
But he is also under international pressure to do more to ensure reconciliation in the ethnically divided nation.
The president told AFP he would give land to civilians displaced by war in the embattled northern and eastern provinces, and also the northwestern coastal region of Puttalam, by the middle of this year.
During a visit to Jaffna in the north last month, where much of the fighting took place, Sirisena said he visited a refugee camp which has been home to about 1,300 families for the past 25 years.
“This is an unacceptable situation. I want to end this problem once and for all,” he said. “For many people the main issue was lack of land and that is something we will resolve in the next six months.”
As part of a parallel scheme, he was also planning to release additional private land occupied by the military, mainly in the former war zones in the northern and eastern provinces starting in the next two weeks.
He said he would travel to Jaffna this month to formally hand over about 700 acres of land as part of the plan and in line with an election promise he had made.
Sirisena, 64, came to power with the backing of Sri Lanka’s minority Tamils and Muslims in addition to the majority Sinhalese on the back of promises to ensure ethnic reconciliation and end the corruption and nepotism of his predecessor.
Soon after his election, Sirisena ordered security forces to return private land they occupied in the Jaffna peninsula, which had seen some of the bloodiest fighting during the war which claimed over 100,000 lives between 1972 and 2009.
He said the government was also working on a mechanism to investigate allegations of war crimes in the final stages of the conflict.
The president said he would also call for proposals for a new constitution to ensure the country did not slip back into war.
“We can’t rush the accountability process,” Sirisena said. “Some people want it to be like instant noodles. We can’t do that. We have to be responsible and respect rule of law.”


In Bolivia desperate family leaves coffin in the street

Updated 04 July 2020

In Bolivia desperate family leaves coffin in the street

  • The Andean nation has reported 36,818 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,320 deaths

LA PAZ, Bolivia: The rising toll of COVID-19 deaths is overwhelming the Bolivian city of Cochabamba, where desperate relatives of one apparent victim of the new coronavirus left his coffin in the street for several hours on Saturday to protest difficulties in getting him buried.
Neighbor Remberto Arnez said the 62-year-old man had died on Sunday and his body had been in his home ever since, “but that’s risky because of the possible contagion.”
After a few hours, funeral workers showed up and took the coffin to a cemetery.
Police Col. Iván Rojas told a news conference that the city is collecting “about 17 bodies a day. This is collapsing the police personnel and funeral workers” in the city of some 630,000 people.
“The crematorium oven is small, that that is where the bodies are collecting,” said national Labor Minister Óscar Mercado, who told reporters that officials were preparing 250 new burial plots in the city’s main cemetery.
The Andean nation has reported 36,818 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,320 deaths.