By Udara Soysa
The Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) has pledged AUD 3.3 million (nearly US$3 million) over three years to support IOM’s efforts to generate the sustainable return and socio-economic reintegration of internally displaced people in the North and vulnerable communities affected by landslides in the centre of Sri Lanka.
The aid comes in the backdrop of the Australian Government in April this year having announced a suspension of refugee processing for people from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan in the wake of growing numbers of asylum seekers arriving by boat.
The Aussie funded project, which is the 3rd Phase of IOM’s Australian Community Rehabilitation Programme (ACRP) launched in 2006, will work with local government and other institutions at the local level to improve access to jobs and services for impoverished and vulnerable communities.
The programme will provide grants to help communities to rebuild their livelihoods and develop skills through training. It will provide tools and equipment, mobilise people and rehabilitate community assets such as markets, irrigation systems, access roads and other infrastructure.
In line with the objectives outlined in the government’s Vadakkin Vasantham (Northern Spring) development programme, IOM will also encourage the development of new technologies and added value in farming and fisheries, and support the development of public-private partnerships and networks to help communities to market their products. Over the past 14 months, IOM Sri Lanka has provided assistance to more than 200,000 internally displaced persons in the conflict-affected north and east of the country. Other IOM activities in Sri Lanka include technical cooperation in migration management and counter-trafficking, assistance for voluntary returns from abroad, stability support and ongoing humanitarian assistance.