Sri Lankan gov't allows elderly refugees leave camps for relatives 2009-06-30 20:51:38   Print

    COLOMBO, June 30 (Xinhua) -- Some 9,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) camped in northern Sri Lanka who are 60 years old or above will be allowed to leave the camps and join their relatives, the police said Tuesday.

    They are to be released to the care of their relatives who are living outside the camps after a due documentation process, a senior police official told reporters here.

    "We have identified about 9,000 of them and they will be allowed to leave camps and be with their relatives," the official said.

    He said those reluctant to join their relatives would not be forced to leave.

    Nearly 300,000 IDPs are housed in government maintained welfare camps in the northern Vavuniya and Jaffna districts.

    They were the Tamil civilians trapped in the northeastern Kilinochchi and Mullaittivu districts during the last battles between the government troops and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which ended on May 19.

    The government has promised to release most of the civilians to their original habitats within 180 days, saying the government needs time to rebuild the infrastructure damaged in the war and find out LTTE members hidden among the IDPs.

    Claiming discrimination at the hands of the majority Sinhalese dominated governments, the LTTE began to fight for an independent Tamil homeland in the north and east in the 1980s, resulting in the killing of about 100,000 people.

Editor: Wang Guanqun
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