Providing civil documentation support for IDPs in the North

30 Sep 2009

UNDP’s Access to Justice Project (A2J) has been requested by the Government of Sri Lanka to provide civil documentation support for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North. The support falls under the umbrella of the Government’s 180-day programme for the North. While meeting the humanitarian needs of the IDPs and other conflict affected groups in the North is the first priority, the authorities overseeing the new camps highlighted documentation as a major issue to address. Documentation enables a person to vote, to obtain school admissions, to obtain social security benefits, to open a bank account or register for national exams. In the case of IDPs it will also greatly assist aspects of the returns and resettlement process. And most importantly it will help to assure freedom of movement and personal security. The office of the Additional Assistant Registrar (AARG) General Northern Province had initiated the basic steps to provide documentation to the IDPs. However, given the scale of the problem, the Government has had to deal with severe capacity gaps. The A2J project has, therefore, been invited to step in to help fill in some of the gaps.

Following discussions and consultations with the relevant Government authorities, the project helped to initiate documentation services in Zone Zero, Menik Farm. The pilot initiative will address the needs of roughly 5-10 per cent of the new IDP population. Drawing on the lessons of the pilot phase, UNDP is planning a budget of US $ 1.5 million to support the Government to roll out similar documentation support to other zones in Menik Farm and to the newly resettled areas in the North.