Despite his training in carpentry, steady work was impossible to find when Ruvendradass returned home to Vallipuram, a village near the Tigers’ former political and administrative centre of Kilinochchi.“There are new highways, new railroads, new electricity and phone lines, but no jobs,” said the father-of-three, who makes a living by rearing chickens and doing odd jobs. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. Almost seven years after the end of Sri Lanka’s decades-long civil war, the majority of former LTTE members are struggling to find jobs despite billions of dollars of extra investment in their regions, IRIN reported.According to IRIN, analysts say Government programmes to develop the war zone have largely failed to stimulate the job market. That’s because most of the money has gone toward infrastructure projects, while neglecting employment generation initiatives such as tax breaks to encourage factories to move into the area, and moves to boost business development like low interest loans and training. One former LTTE member, Sivalingam Ruvendradass, who spent three years in a government “rehabilitation” programme, which is compulsory for former LTTE members and provides them with education and vocational training, now looks back at wartime with some fondness. Muttukrishna Sarvananthan, who heads the Point Pedro Institute of Development, a research institute in the northern city of Jaffna, criticised the former Government for employing mostly military personnel as labour in public projects. The strategy “deprived jobs for local people, especially youths,” he said.There are around 12,000 former combatants, mostly in the Northern Province, who have been released after undergoing rehabilitation programmes, according to the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation. Only around 3,000 have gained permanent employment, most in the civil defence force under the police department.Two of the worst hit districts during the conflict, Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi in the Northern Province, have been plagued by high unemployment since the fighting ended in 2009. Kilinochchi suffers from the highest national unemployment rate at 7.6 percent, compared to the national average of 4.3 percent, according to national the Department of Census and Statistics. “Then at least I was getting something from the Tigers,” he told IRIN. Central Bank figures show that between 2010 and 2012, when the large construction projects were at a peak in the former war zone, only 5.8 percent (24,303) of the 422,111 jobs created nationally were in Northern Province. The new Government of President Maithripala Sirisena, which took power a year ago, is promising programmes to stimulate employment, although it has yet to launch any.“We want make the North and East part of a larger national development programme,” government spokesman Rajitha Senarathana told IRIN. “We want to attract foreign investment while providing livelihoods training. There are also plans to provide loans and other assistance with donor funding.” (Colombo Gazette) “I have always maintained that the focus needs to be on promoting private enterprises within the region – supporting small and medium entrepreneurs there (to) grow through finance, technology and market access,” said Anushka Wijesinha, chief economist at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. The previous government under Mahinda Rajapaksa poured $3.5 billion into Northern Province alone, most of it into large infrastructure projects like roads, railways and electricity, according to the Central Bank. The spending was meant to promote reconciliation through economic development in the war-torn region.
Several of the rooms at Trent Park where the German prisoners socialised – and the walls through which their conversations were recorded – will now be restored and preserved for posterity.Ms Lederer, whose grandfather – a Czech refugee – was one of the intelligence officers tasked with gathering information from the German Prisoners of War, said:“It will now be museum instead of all being luxury flats, which is a huge triumph and of interest for the future. Younger people aren’t always necessarily interested, but they will find it if its there.”Microphones hidden in the walls, furniture and even pot plants at Trent Park, near Cockfosters, north London, allowed military intelligence to gather invaluable information from the Germans who – unaware they were being spied on – spoke freely among themselves. At Trent Park it really was the case that, in the words of the World War Two propaganda slogan, the walls had ears.It was through those walls that as part of an ingenious undercover operation British intelligence eavesdropped on the 59 high ranking German officers being held prisoner there.More than 70 years on the English country house where such valuable information was extracted was destined to be turned into luxury flats – its intriguing history lost forever.But it can now be revealed that developers have agreed to set aside part of the extensive building for conversion into a museum, following a campaign by local residents and historians, including the comic and writer Helen Lederer. Helen Lederer, whose grandfather served with British intelligence at Trent House, in north LondonCredit:Andrew Crowley Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Such was the value of the overheard conversations that it allowed British intelligence to discover the existence of Hitler’s secret weapon programme at Peenemunde, in the Baltic, and subsequently inflict heavy damage on the plant during a bombing raid in August 1943.The officer’s loose talk also gave up information which was used by the allies to defend the Atlantic convoys against U-Boat attacks.“It was sort of James Bond, but it saved lives,” said Miss Lederer. “My grandfather spoke fluent German. He met and assessed the Nazi officers at Trent Park and was able in his work with the secret listeners to prevent loss of life during the war. He’d be assessing their psychology and getting as much information as possible.“My grandmother would see him off in the mornings and nobody knew until a few years ago. It was absolutely wonderful to discover my grandfather did do something.”According to historian Helen Fry, who wrote The M Room about the Trent Park eavesdropping operation, the German officers also boasted about the war crimes they had committed, unaware their conversations were being recorded.“They became completely unguarded,” she said.Following the defeat of Nazi Germany Trent Park is understood to have been used as part of the West’s Cold War intelligence operations against the Soviet Union, though much of the detail about this period remains classified.The building later became part of Middlesex University, until its sale to Berkeley Homes last year.Ms Fry told Radio 4’s Today programme: “There’s a lot of history about the place that we’re still not allowed to share. It’s something that could be explored when more of the Cold War stuff is released.” Some of the German officers held at Trent Park during WWIICredit:Bundesarchiv