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Human Rights Chief raises hopes of resettlement at IDP camp in Jaffna

Updated 0200 GMT

The United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein visited Chunnakam IDP camp on Saturday, stating that he hoped the displaced Tamil villagers would be returned to their original homes the next time he visited Jaffna.

Speaking to families living at the camp, the Human Rights Chief said, “I hope that next time I come I will not be visiting a welfare centre, but I will come to visit you in your homes”.

The camp has previously been
visited by foreign officials, and despite promises of resettlement by the Sri Lankan government, many remain trapped, a fact acknowledged by the High Commissioner.

"You must be tired when you see people like me year after year and you tell your stories and nothing seems to happen," he said. "But I assure you, I assure you, in the end there will be change and you will find your way home."

The camp residents applauded and cheered as the High Commissioner finished his address, with many lining up to thank him for his words.

Many of the residents have been displaced from their homes for decades, and remain unable to return due to Sri Lankan military occupation of their land. "It's very clear that people of the North have problems and are frustrated," said the High Commissioner, after meeting residents at the camp. 

The desperation felt was highlighted when elderly residents of the camp, pleaded with UN officials to be resettled in their land, as the High Commissioner's convoy was leaving.

Residents at the Sabhapathipillai refugee camp also held banners calling on the High Commissioner to appoint a country specific UN rapporteur for Sri Lanka.

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