Sri Lanka: Rebuilding lives and homes after years of conflict

Publié: 10 mars 2014 16:06 CET

By Mahieash Johnney – IFRC in Colombo

Waking up early everyday morning, preparing food and making sure her kids are ready to go to school is something she has been doing as long as she can remember.

This is how Sellathurai Rajeswary, a mother of three, lives in former war-torn village Pandiaynkulam in Mullativu.  She works as a laborer, doing odd jobs to get money so she can give her children the best life she can offer. Her husband is no longer with them – he passed away four years ago due to a kidney ailment.

During the final stages of the war, Rajeswary’s family was displaced and had to seek refuge in various camps. However, they returned to their homeland later in 2010, the year in which she lost her husband.

“After my husband died, my family was hungry at times, and help was very slow to come. We heard that the Red Cross was going to give support to build houses in our area, and we were waiting for that to come,” said Rajeswary. 

Post-conflict recovery programme

The Sri Lanka Red Cross Society, with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and funding from the Government of India, has embarked on a project to support people returning to their lands in Northern Sri Lanka in rebuilding their homes after decades of displacement.  

The programme, which provides cash grants to beneficiaries, is implemented in partnership with the Government of Sri Lanka. Government representatives propose a list of people whose houses have been destroyed or damaged during the conflict, then Red Cross Project Officers visit every person on the list to verify eligibility for assistance from the programme. Rajeswary waited, hoping she would be eligible to receive funding from the programme, and therefore be able to build a new life for her and for her children. The initial list was published but unfortunately, her name was not on it.

The grievance process

The Post Conflict Recovery Programme provides people like Rajeswary with an opportunity to voice their concerns and seek redress of their grievances. Once the preliminary selection of families is done, the list is displayed in public areas, and community members have 14 days to raise any concerns in relation to their own application or those of others through a grievance process.

When the Red Cross held a grievance meeting, Rajeswary informed the organization of her situation and notified them that her name was not on the list. During the meeting, she informed the Red Cross officials of the matter, which triggered an immediate response, and Technical Officers were sent to her location to inspect the matter. Her case was then discussed at the grievance meeting, which confirmed her eligibility for assistance under the project.  

Currently, Rajeswary is receiving the financial support in order to build her house. Since then she has finished building the walls of her new home.

“I am grateful to the Red Cross for making this miracle happen. If it weren’t for them, my children and I would have been in a dire condition. This is good for us.”

For more information about the Red Cross Post Conflict Recovery Programme or extended details of how the grievance process works please log onto