Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

At least 3 dead in grenade attack in Bujumbura

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Inequality, sexism and the movie industry

Read more

ENCORE!

Sienna Miller on motherhood, her new movies and Cannes glamour

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

After the Fall of Ramadi, Palmyra: Did the West Underestimate the Jihadists?

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Migrants and Immigrants: A Global Crisis

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Behind the scenes of French gastronomy

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Protests continue in Burundi as calls mount for election delay

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Burundi: Nkurunziza delays parliamentary polls as clashes continue

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

At least two killed in fresh protests in Bujumbura

Read more

Asia-pacific

Colombo pledges to open Tamil refugee camps

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-11-21

Sri Lanka's government has pledged to let tens of thousands of civilians displaced during the war with the Tamil Tigers move freely between refugee camps until their permanent re-settlement, to be completed by the end of January.

AFP - Sri Lanka said Saturday it plans to let war-displaced civilians move freely in and out of internment camps ahead of completing their planned re-settlement in two months.
   
The announcement comes amid strong international pressure on Colombo to release tens of thousands of civilians held in the camps.
   
Some 136,328 men, women and children still remain inside camps across the island's

north, down from 280,000 at the end of the fighting in May with the defeat of Tamil Tiger guerrillas.
   
"We will allow complete freedom of movement," senior presidential adviser Basil Rajapakse told inmates of the Manik Farm complex, the main facility housing displaced civilians.
   
The inmates of Manik Farm and other camps who are still being held by the government will be allowed to come and go freely from December 1, he said.
   
The entire resettlement of internally displaced civilians will be completed according to schedule by January 31, Rajapakse said at a ceremony at the complex which lies 257 kilometers (160 miles) north of the capital.
   
The government had already said it planned to release most of the civilians by the end of January.
   
The adviser, who is the younger brother of President Mahinda Rajapakse, said the government wanted to complete the entire re-settlement by January 31, a date promised to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
   
A batch of 41,000 people were allowed to leave the camps in October, making it the biggest single release of war displaced people held in camps.
   
In May, Sri Lankan troops defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels who had been fighting since 1972 to carve out a separate nation in the Sinhalese-majority island.
   
The government has been widely criticized for holding refugees indefinitely, but it insisted it needed time to weed out Tiger fighters hidden among the displaced civilians.
   
The government has also said over 1.5 million mines must be cleared and basic infrastructure needs to be in place to allow returnees to resume their normal lives.

Date created : 2009-11-21

COMMENT(S)