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All refugees have been registered: Lankan Minister

By T V Sriram
Last updated on: December 04, 2009 15:42 IST
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The Sri Lankan Government has said that all displaced civilians living in the welfare camps run by it have been registered and their overseas relatives could contact them through the country's missions. "All of the displaced people have been registered and therefore the diaspora should be able to contact their relatives through relevant Sri Lankan authorities and overseas missions of Sri Lanka," Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said on Thursday.

The minister was addressing an interactive session with a group of British parliamentarians at the House of Commons. Bogollagama urged the British lawmakers to inform the diaspora to contact Sri Lankan Missions instead of complaining to their MPs, a Foreign Ministry statement said. The Foreign Minister said there have been no cases of disappearances and killings of journalists in Sri Lanka and asked the British MPs to cite any instances of such disappearances, the statement added.

According to estimates around 1,18,000 internally displaced persons are left in the welfare camps at Vavuniya, were a large chunk of displaced persons are housed. Bogollagama also briefed on the extensive progress being made in the resettlement of IDPs, besides the demining process and political developments in the country.

Sri Lanka needs the international community's support in the restoration of the infrastructure facilities, housing, agriculture in the conflict affected areas, Bogollagama added. Referring to the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections, the minister said a strong and wider mandate is sought for the implementation of political solutions for sustainable peace in the country.

The Foreign Ministry's statement quoted Bogollagama as saying that all the IDPs in the camps will return back to their homes. Over 66 organisations including specialised UN agencies have been functioning in welfare villages as well as in other parts of the entire Northern Province, he said, adding media persons have been able to visit the country without any hindrance.

The post-conflict role of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Sri Lanka will be redefined and cleared in the near future, Bogollagama said. The minister said the presidential elections, monitored by international observers, will have all eligible voters exercising their franchise during the polls. Those IDPs who have been registered will also be able to vote in the presidential polls to be held on January 26, he added.

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T V Sriram in Colombo
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