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Lanka lifts restrictions on Tamil refugees

Last updated on: December 1, 2009 21:39 IST

Freedom of sought, at last?

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The Sri Lankan government on Tuesday allowed nearly 1.30 lakh Tamil civilians housed in refugees camps in northern part of the island country to visit their relatives, as authorities lifted restrictions on their movement.

Some 3 lakh Tamils were housed in the refugees camps after the final stage of the government's military operations that defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels in May.

Nearly 7,000 Tamils out of the 1.28 lakh refugees in camps for the Internally Displaced Persons in Vavuniya, located 260 kilometers north of Colombo, were allowed to leave the camps to meet their relatives after being registered with the authorities for the purpose.

Text: T V Sriram in Colombo for PTI

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Image: Lankan Tamil IDPs react when they hear news that they can leave the camp at Vavuniya
Photographs: Reuters
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'IDPs are now free to leave without any conditions'

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Civilians, who have taken shelters in welfare villages, are now free to leave without any conditions, according to authorities.

There will be no restrictions imposed on the duration of their absence from the villages from Tuesday, said Risath Bathiyutheen, the minister of resettlement and disaster relief services.

The government has declared that civilians will be free to leave the villages once they have given their personal details to the authorities concerned.


Image: Soldiers stand guard near IDPs at the Vavuniya camp
Photographs: Reuters
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'All efforts would be made to resettle them'

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A majority of the displaced housed in the camps have already been resettled, the Lankan government claims. The government has said all efforts would be made to resettle all displaced people by January 31, 2010.

All civilians of the Vavuniya welfare village from the Jaffna peninsula and Eastern Province have already been resettled, an official statement said.

The military defeated the LTTE in May, ending their 25-year violent struggle for an independent state for the minority Tamils.


Image: IDPs look over a fence as they stand inside a camp in Vavuniya
Photographs: Reuters
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