I was in a camp and there were like 500 people sleeping outside, in plain sight of like 100 empty tents. They were empty cause of some bureaucratic decision. Managing 300,000 people is no joke, but a lot of these problems can be solved with local civil administration. I personally think they should elect their own, but transfers of Tamil speakers would be fine. And people in the camps have to clean, cook, and generally work for themselves. They should be given jobs. Names, representatives, IDs, family, jobs and votes. This is my platform for Vavuniya Dog Catcher. Election is soon.
Everything has to start with people having a name. And an identity. No list of names is publicly posted in the camps yet, though I hope the Ministry Of Defence and Basil do it as soon as possible. That’s a huge thing. Mainly cause families are separated.
I don’t know the word in Tamil, but each camp needs a Grama Niladari. It’s basically a government agent. Or customer service. They certify documents, births, deaths, give NICs, employment info, interface with the government, whatever. You can just have a vote within the camp and pick a person.
That’s probably not going to happen, so you could transfer or create camp government agents (GAs). Just get Tamil speakers and there’s a bunch of government jobs for election time. This is basically the civil administration that the LTTE destroyed (among other things) and it has to be rebuilt.
Note: I also think priests are very important. Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, whatever. There’s a Buddhist monk giving robes and helping setup a Hindu temple in Zone 1. In times of trouble faith and religious leaders are very important. And helpful.
You cannot travel anywhere in Sri Lanka without a National Identity Card (NIC). I believe the Registration or whatever department is going around issuing these, so good. But is going to take a while. You simply cannot travel or access other government services without one.
We can’t break up the family unit. It’s just not productive. Families take care of each other and they should be together. This can only happen after people are screened, but it makes the camps much more self-sufficient. It’s a cost to connect everyone and then put them on buses. I say give them all Facebook accounts.
The worst thing about camps is sitting around all day. It’s so boring. The IDPs I’ve met are happy to talk cause they’re so bored. If you’ve ever been in government care – be it an office, hospital or jail – they waste so much time. People are literally waiting all day and it’s debilitating.
At the same time, garbage is piling up, milk powder needs to be mixed, food needs to be cooked, tea needs to be made, etc. We should just take the budgets that are floating around and pay people like Rs. 100 a day to make tea.
The problem with a lot of relief is that they take goods off a ship and hand them out the back of a truck. The money doesn’t touch the local economy. Our people need money like you or me, and they also need something to do.
More to the point, the garbage in Menik Farm Zone Four is attracting flies and that sucks. I swear to God, garbage is the biggest issue right now. It’s simply not going to work if people don’t pick up after themselves.
This is impossible for many political reasons, but they should be able to vote in the upcoming Vavuniya and Jaffna elections. They are of course not registered as residents, so fair enough, but they need some political representation. It is very difficult to get stuff done without some proximity to a politician, and these Sri Lankan citizens should have it.
This stuff is all well and good in a bleeding heart sense, but it also makes sense. Right now the garbage isn’t being picked up and there are literally 300,000 people doing nothing next to it. Taxpayers don’t have that much money and at some point the camps need to become more self-sufficient for Sri Lanka’s sake.