Over 2 lakhs displaced Lankan Tamils return home: UN

Last Updated: Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - 23:26

United Nations: Over two lakh displaced
Tamil civilians have left refugee camps in the north and east
Sri Lanka since the resettlement process began in August last
year following the defeat of the LTTE in the three-decades
long ethnic conflict, the UN refugee agency said on Tuesday.

Some 7,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) have
returned to the districts of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu
following the resumption of government-led return movements in
northern Sri Lanka after a three week temporary pause due to
parliamentary elections and holidays.
"Some 207,000 IDPs have left camps in the north and
east of the country since the organised return process began
in August last year. They have either returned to their homes
or are staying with friends and relatives in Vavuniya, Mannar,
Jaffna and other districts," according the United Nations
Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

"People are returning to areas which suffered major
destruction," said UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic.

"To assist them to rebuild their lives, we are
providing each returning family with a shelter cash grant of
25,000 rupees (USD 220). More than 40,000 families had already
received the cash grant by March,? he added.

At the height of the conflict between the Sri Lankan
government and the Tamil Tigers, about 280,000 people had been
displaced.
They were staying in more than 40 camps, mainly in the
Menik Farm site in the Vavuniya region but also in Jaffna,
Mannar and Trincomalee districts.

The conditions in the refugee camps led to strong
international criticism for human rights violations on the
part of Sri Lankan government.

"The camps, which used to be overcrowded, are now
hosting less than one third of their initial population,"
Mahecic said, adding "Returns and the subsequent decongestion
eased the pressure on the health, food and water services.?

Meanwhile, the international community is calling for
investigations into alleged human rights violations on part of
the Sri Lankan army.

In August 2009, footage surfaced that showed a Sri
Lankan soldier shooting at point blank range a Tamil rebel who
is bound and blindfolded --reinforcing allegations about
summarily executions on part of the Sri Lankan army.

Calls for international investigations persist.

Sri Lanka has rejected the U.N. call for independent
investigations but UN Chief Ban Ki-moon has noted that he
would continue to press Colombo for accountability on the
matter.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - 23:26

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