The government of Sri Lanka has spent a staggering Rs. 2.5 bn on the rehabilitation of ex-LTTE cadres since the conclusion of the conflict in May 2009.
Commissioner General of Rehabilitation Maj. Gen. Sudantha Ranasinghe yesterday said that in spite of constraints, the government had provided the funds needed for post-war rehabilitation process.
Responding to a query, the official said that the first year (May 2009 to May 2010) had cost the Sri Lankan taxpayer Rs. 1.8 bn and about Rs. 700 mn since then.
With the release of 150 ex-LTTE cadres, the total number released so far would exceed 8,000 with some 2,000 LTTEmembers, including about 100 women still undergoing rehabilitation.
Maj. Gen. Ranasinghe alleged that those shedding crocodile tears for the ex-LTTE combatants hadn t supported the rehabilitation project, though some foreign governments and INGOs were backing the government s efforts.
The rehabilitation Chief said that at the beginning of the programme there had been 11,664 personnel at 24 rehabilitation facilities and those who accused the military of war crimes should talk to former members of the LTTE and ascertain their views. He said: `We have over 11,000 witnesses who either surrendered or were captured and then released following rehabilitation. Besides them, there are some 300,000 civilians.Unlike faceless men in fake videos produced by Channel 4 News, we have over 300,000 witnesses.`
`At one time we brought 1,500 of those undergoing rehabilitation to Colombo and its suburbs. No one tried to escape as they knew no other army would have treated them the way we did,` the official said.
Asked whether ex-LTTE cadres would be given an opportunity to support reconstruction and rehabilitation similar to the projects undertaken by the military, the Major Gen. said that two weeks ago former combatants had helped villagers at an isolated village in the Kilinochchi District. The official expressed confidence that ex-LTTE personnel could play a pivotal role in rehabilitation and reconstruction projects.
Military spokesman Maj. Gen. Ubaya Medawela emphasised that the military had a crucial role to play in the post-war development plans. Although some interested parties had expressed concern over their involvement, the military would continue with projects undertaken in the northern and eastern provinces. `Our troops built over 7,000 new houses and repaired about 10,000 others since the end of the war,` the outgoing military spokesman said. He estimated that the SLA had completed projects worth approximately Rs 6.3 bn and more projects were in the pipeline.