Sri Lanka allows freedom of movement for war displaced civilians 2009-11-21 16:14:18   Print

    COLOMBO, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lankan war displaced civilians, who are now living in highly guarded camps in the northern Vauniya district, will be allowed to move freely from Dec. 1, a senior government officials said on Saturday.

    Chairman of the President's Task Force for Rehabilitation and Resettlement Basil Rajapaksa told reporters that the government has decided to allow the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) to move freely to honor their human rights to become free civilians after the eradication of Tamil Tiger rebels.

    "We have decided to allow freedom of movement to these people from Dec. 1, " Rajapakse told reporters at the Menik Farm refugee camp in Vavuniya.

    "They are free to move in and out of the camps and could even go home if they wished," Rajapakse added.

    This arrangement would be in place until the government resettled all by its targeted date of Jan. 31, 2010.

    This was the first time that freedom of movement was allowed for around 288,000 displaced civilians housed in Vavuniya camps from the end of May.

    They have been subject to strict security procedure with even family members not being able to visit them until Saturday's announcement.

    There are still over 130,000 IDPs in camps in Vavuniya and UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes on his recent visit to Sri Lanka urged the government to consider the freedom of movement in these camps.

    With the improved security in the north, the government has taken steps to bring normalcy to the north which had been dominated by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) since the1980s.

    The A-9 road connecting the northern Jaffna peninsula and the central town of Kandy has been opened.

    The main battle between the government forces and the LTTE brought the country's 30-year-old civil war to an end in May. About 100,000 people were killed in the bloody civil war.

Editor: Li Xianzhi
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