Assessing Trauma in Sri Lanka: Psycho-Social Questionnaire Vavuniya Survey Outcomes

This report is based on a mental health survey among the population of the Welfare Centres (WFCs) in Vavuniya (Sri Lanka). The Welfare Centres were established 10 years ago as temporary facilities to house those that were to be resettled in other parts of Sri Lanka. Due to the ongoing insecurity the mostly Tamil inhabitants have settled permanently in the Centres. A pass system limits the movements of this group of 23, 000 people considerably. During the survey (13-17th of Nov. 2000) 163 displaced living in the WFCs were interviewed. The number of women interviewed was higher (62%) which is not representative for the population distribution in the WFCs (females 53%). Majority of the respondents had an age between 25-34 years with a secondary education. Both are representative for the WFCs population.
The majority (58%) was displaced between 1995-1999 (Nov.). The average amount of displacements was 3 times prior to arrival in the WFC. Most escaped with their family (87%). A substantial number of displaced indicates their preference to restart their life in a quiet (no war) area (50%). A minority (12%) wanted to stay in the WFCs. The possibility to start a meaningful life with self-control through for instance an own income is small. The pass system did not allow them to leave the camp. Subsequently only 6% has full time work. The rest (94%) is highly dependent on the WFC facilities and a small government allowance. It can be concluded that the population in the WFC is ‘guarded’ without a reasonable chance to rebuild their lives.

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