Sri Lanka: Refugees in camps allowed total freedom of movement from Tuesday

AFP has reported that as of December 1 2009, refugees confined to camps will be allowed to come and go as they please.


About 128,000 men, women and children who were displaced during the final stages of the conflict remain in heavily guarded military camps in Vavuniya district, 260 kilometres (160 miles) north of Colombo.

"There will be no restrictions on displaced people from December 1. They have to inform the army post they are leaving and can come and go as they wish," N. Thirugnanasampanther, a civil servant in Vavuniya, said Monday.

Sri Lanka confined 300,000 refugees in vast camps in order to weed out Tamil Tiger combatants. In July this year Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa told Time Magazine that he had instructed his administration to open the camps, allow freedom of movement, and return the displaced within 180 days.

Time (Monday, Jul. 13, 2009),

[Time] What is your priority now?
[MR] Over 300,000 people are in the IDP [internally-displaced persons] camps. The whole area is mined. We must de-mine the whole area, give basic facilities, water, electricity, roads, resettle them.

[Time]What is your time frame?
[MR] We have a 180-day program. That is our plan. In 180 days, we want to settle most of these people.

What would you like to accomplish before the next presidential election [which could be held as early as November]?
[MR] At least 50% must be released. I would say 60%.

Is that a promise?
[MR] It's not a promise, it's a target.

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