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16.06.2006 Disaster

Plight of Digya evictees worsen

By myjoyonline
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Thousands of people evicted from the Digya Island in the eastern region are considering a return to the island after being stranded for months on another island.

The settlers say they've been abandoned and have no means of livelihood. Reports reaching JOY News indicate that apart from the first consignment of relief items sent to the settlers when they were forced out from the Digya Island in April, no support has been given them since.

The people, including women and children live and sleep under sheds, which cannot stand the rains. A group of parliamentarians, which visited the area recently says the number has almost doubled. The number of people is estimated at 15,000 from 55 communities.

Two months ago, officials of the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission allegedly forced out thousands of residents of Digya Island.

A number of people on board a boat from the island drowned in the Volta Lake.

A government committee set up to investigate the disaster is yet to make its findings public. The committee was given up to May 26 this year to submit a report to government for action.

Initial figures of the evictees were put at 8,000. But a three-man committee sent to the area by the Volta caucus in parliament to assess the conditions of the people say at least 15,000 people are victims of the eviction.

The caucus is yet to make its report public. But JOY News findings have revealed that after a five-day intensive tour of the area, the caucus discovered at least 55 communities, which settlers are victims of the eviction and live under very appalling conditions.

Focus has only been on Mancheri and Abotoase, where the relief items were sent. But the group is said to have found more deprived settlements, which have not received any attention from authorities.

The people are said to be in need of food, shelter, clothing and healthcare and are deserting the communities where they have lived since their eviction.

Sources close to the Volta Caucus say the evictees may just return to the island where they have farms and believe they could make a living.

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