- Sri Lanka is ranked 102 of 182 on the Human Development Index.
- On 18 May 2009, the Government of Sri Lanka announced the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), ending its 26 year-long civil conflict.
- During the months preceding the final battles, nearly 300,000 people fled the Northern Vanni region. They were accommodated in emergency camps, mainly in the North-central district of Vavuniya.
- Within weeks of the end of the conflict, the President of Sri Lanka announced a 180-day plan, which included a commitment to return the majority of the displaced population to their homes by the end of the year.
- The pace of resettlement increased in mid-October 2009 when the government launched an Accelerated Returns Programme. As of mid-November, over 110,000 IDPs had returned to their district of origin.
- At the time of publication, approximately 160,000 remained in 28 camps, the largest of which is Menik Farm in Vavuniya.
From the second half of 2009, the government invested significant resources and placed emphasis on demining and reconstruction in the North, paving the way for the return of the IDPs. The priority focus for OCHA in 2010 will be on supporting the coordination of returns, the restoration of basic livelihoods and communities, and the rebuilding of destroyed infrastructure. Tens of thousands of vulnerable IDPs are likely to remain in camps throughout much of 2010, requiring continued relief coordination support. OCHA Sri Lanka plays a central role in supporting humanitarian planning and response at district and national levels, while working to prepare the ground for early recovery and transition programming.
OCHA will address the following coordination challenges: removing restrictions on freedom of movement; ensuring returns are conducted in a safe, voluntary and informed manner; and providing transparent information sharing to support the coherent planning of return and recovery efforts of the government. In 2010, OCHA will continue to provide leadership in coordination, information management and advocacy. OCHA will focus on further strengthening interagency coordination structures, as well as improving communication channels to support information sharing and joint planning efforts with responsible government bodies. Specifically, OCHA will reinforce partnerships based on the cluster approach, through the Inter-Cluster Meetings in Colombo and Vavuniya.
An expanded HCT will aim to take timely and focused decisions in support of effective, coherent humanitarian action. OCHA will continue to provide human resources and technical support to reinforce national capacity for response to emergencies, including natural disasters. Information products will be streamlined and refined to ensure timely and analytical reporting to facilitate decision making of various stakeholders at different levels. In addition, OCHA will support clusters to better provide relevant and time-sensitive information, supporting needs based planning, informed judgments, and assessments of the impact of humanitarian response. Increased progress on returns – coupled with ongoing humanitarian concerns regarding those still unable to return – will require continued OCHA engagement. As the overall humanitarian situation will remain fluid and require regular review, OCHA will continue to facilitate stronger linkages between humanitarian, recovery and development actors.
During the first half of 2010, field resources will be concentrated in Vavuniya, with a satellite office in Jaffna. Sufficient capacity will be maintained in Colombo to support ongoing operations, as well as respond to areas of return. At the same time, the CO will aim to ensure an effective transition and responsible phase down of humanitarian coordination structures.