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Sri Lanka: New roles for NGOs in conflict-hit north?

August 21, 2009

…”The role of NGOs in doing straight humanitarian work is gradually going to phase down. They are going to have to shift to be more involved with early recovery, but ultimately with development,” Neil Buhne, the UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka, told IRIN in Colombo, noting the country’s long tradition of community-based NGOs.

…But according to aid agencies on the ground, there will be no shifting gears any time soon.

More than 280,000 people languish in government camps in Vavuniya, Mannar, Jaffna and Trincomalee districts since the end of the war in May between government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which had been fighting for an independent Tamil homeland for more than two decades.

A 180-day government plan to resettle them in their home communities appears unrealistic, say aid workers.

“If there is a plan, I certainly haven’t seen it,” one international NGO staff member in Vavuniya, who asked not to be identified, said.

…More than three months since the conflict ended, access to the heavily guarded IDP camps remains restricted, making needs assessments difficult.

Even taking pictures inside the camps is barred by the authorities, who continue to cite security concerns.

“Our access to information is very limited. What information they do share with us is on their terms and only with great difficulty. That’s not the way it should be,” one aid worker said.

Read full article here.

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