Friday, October 23, 2009

Sri Lanka sends home 41,000 war-displaced civilians

COLOMBO — Sri Lanka, under pressure to release 250,000 Tamil civilians displaced in the final defeat of Tamil Tiger rebels, has begun resettling some who fled their homes more than two years ago.

The top government administrator in the northern town of Vavuniya, P. S. M. Charles, said 41,000 civilians were being released from camps and allowed to return home.

"Those released fled their homes when fighting broke out in their areas over two years ago. Some of them will stay in school buildings in their areas till they are able to renovate their houses," Charles told AFP.

The government has given each family 25,000 rupees (230 dollars), roofing sheets, two weeks of food rations and cooking utensils.

The resettled civilians did not include more than 200,000 Tamils who were displaced by the massive final offensive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) that ended the island's long-running ethnic conflict in May.

Under strong international pressure, the Sri Lankan government has promised to send at least 80 percent of them home by the end of this year.

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