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Army says displaced people all resettled

MPs and families dispute claim

Displaced families prepare to leave Menik Farm IDP camp yesterday morning Displaced families prepare to leave Menik Farm IDP camp yesterday morning
  • ucanews.com reporters, Vayuniya
  • Sri Lanka
  • September 25, 2012
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An army spokesman said the last displaced communities following the civil war were resettled yesterday. But the main Tamil opposition party claims that some were moved to new temporary camps.

Authorities closed Menik Farm, an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in Vayuniya district, and moved nearly 1,200 people back to “their original places of residence,” said Major-General Boniface Perera, commander of the Wanni security region in the north, adding that there were “no more IDPs” in Sri Lanka.

These families were displaced in the last days of the civil war against the Tamil Tigers which ended in victory for government forces in May 2009.

But M.A. Sumanthiran, a spokesman for the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the main Tamil opposition party, said that authorities sent some IDPs to temporary camps nearby and not to their original villages which the army forcibly cleared during the war.

“People have not been allowed to resettle in their own places,” said Sumanthiran. “We pressure the government to conduct a proper resettlement process.”

The army said in a statement today that “resettlement started as soon as the areas were cleared of mines,” but some people returning yesterday said mines remained a problem in their villages.

Kathiravelu Ezhil Kumar, 30, a father of two who was among those told to leave Menik Camp yesterday, said mines had only been cleared within a three-meter radius of houses in his village, Manuvil, which lies further north of Menik Camp within the same district.

“We can see warning signs for mines everywhere in our village,” he said, adding that all houses there had been damaged by fighting during the war.

He complained that his family would have to start over again without electricity, food or water.

The army said it gave the IDPs a package including roofing sheets, kitchen utensils and other supplies before leaving the camp yesterday.

Nearly 300,000 people were left displaced as the fighting reached its climax in early 2009, according to the army, as security forces evacuated villages and laid anti-personnel mines in a bid to separate civilians from the Tamil Tigers to flush out the insurgents in the north of the country.

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