Lessons while en route to solutions: revisiting the IDP return and resettlement programme in the East of Sri Lanka
This paper looks at the progress made to-date of the ambitious return-resettlement plan the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) initiated in mid 2007, for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the East of the country. In the assessment the author makes references to Durable Solutions approaches promoted by UNHCR and Brookings, and Early Recovery methods called for by UNDP. In line with the prescribed models, 5 research lenses were used, in the districts of Batticaloa and Trincomalee, to answer 'how far have we come'. These included housing, livelihoods, governance, infrastructure, and security stabilization. The findings revealed uneven progress in each of the sectors, which made it difficult to come to a common conclusion on if solutions had been reached for the returned people. Or if at all the threshold for the solution (or integrated solutions) could ever be pragmatically set, when multiple sectors and assorted actors are at work, and there are disparate time frames. The study provides a case example of the challenges faced by humanitarian and development actors on a daily basis on the ground, when it comes to assessing progress towards targets. As such, lessons can be drawn from the exercise for future resettlement endeavours of such nature.