Northern Sri Lanka: Road to Recovery

Sri Lanka, War

Between 1983 and 2009 a never-ending military conflict between the Sinhalese government forces and the paramilitaries of the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam), who fought for independence of the majority of Tamil inhabited areas, raged mainly in the north of Sri Lanka. The United Nations estimates that nearly 40,000 Tamil civilians lost their lives in the final phase of the war, approximately half of the civil war’s total death toll. War crimes may have been carried out by both, the LTTE and the Governmental Army. Even after the war there was so sign of peace. The Sinhalese Government under rule of President Mahinda Rajapaksa has sent thousands of soldiers to ensure the fragile peace in the troubled north. Human Rights Watch repeatedly accused police and army of politically motivated torture, ill-treatment and sexual violence against Tamil civilians. In January 2015 the autocratic ruling president Rajapaksa has been deselected in his planned re-election.

In the Northern province, especially around the area of Mullaitivu, the scars of war are most evident. Destroyed houses line next to mined land. The contamination from the final phase of the war (2008-2009) now poses the most immediate and significant threat to returning families as most of the mines in Kilinochchi were laid by the LTTE after civilians were displaced, returning families are often not aware of where minefields have been laid.

srilanka_roadtorecovery_michaelbiach-7479The ‘victory monument’ near Mullaitiviu portraying a Sri Lankan Army officer holding the country’s flag was raised to mark the battle at Mullaitivu beach in Nandikadal lagoon where the Tamil rebels (LTTE) and their leader were crushed by the Sri Lankan Army.

srilanka_roadtorecovery_michaelbiach-7521Singhalese army soldiers at a wartime memorial near Elephant Pass.

srilanka_roadtorecovery_michaelbiach-7668A Tamil man with the significant tikka, a Hindu symbol, on his face is sitting in front of his shop in Jaffna.

srilanka_roadtorecovery_michaelbiach-7451A Singhalese army soldier seen through the window of a passing car.  

srilanka_roadtorecovery_michaelbiach-7607Tamil woman at a small fish market in Jaffna.

srilanka_roadtorecovery_MichaelBiach-7469.jpgThe contamination from the final phase of the war (2008-2009) now poses the most immediate and significant threat to returning families…

srilanka_roadtorecovery_michaelbiach-7502…as most of the mines in Kilinochchi were laid by the LTTE after civilians were displaced, returning families are often not aware of where minefields have been laid.

srilanka_roadtorecovery_michaelbiach-7509In the Northern province, especially around the area of Mullaitivu, the scars of war are most evident. Destroyed houses line next to mined land.

srilanka_roadtorecovery_michaelbiach-7514A torn election poster of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa. 

srilanka_roadtorecovery_michaelbiach-7595A Christian man selling vegetables in a market area in Jaffna.  

srilanka_roadtorecovery_michaelbiach-7461A Sri Lankan Army bus on the  Waddukwakal Bridge. The scene was the setting of an intense battle between the Sri Lankan army and the LTTE in the final days of the war in 2009.  

srilanka_roadtorecovery_michaelbiach-7482