Sri Lanka Government on Thursday morning released 41,685 Tamils from 12,000 families displaced during the Eelam War IV, housed till now in government-run relief camps in the north.
The released are being sent back to their original villages in the districts of Vavuniya, Mannar, Kilinochchi and Mullaithivu and would be transported to their homes by government buses.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa had assured a 10-member delegation of ruling-combine MPs from Tamil Nadu, which visited Sri Lanka from October 10 to 15 that 58,000 internally-displaced Tamils in camps would be sent back to their native places within a fortnight.
Prior to the release of 41,685 displaced on Thursday, there were a total number of 2,50,000 Tamil refugees in the government run camps. The Mahinda Rajapaksa Government plans to release the remaining IDPs gradually. Progress on release of the balance IDPs is linked to de-mining, certification by the UN and creation of basic infrastructure for people to return to their normal life.
At a function in Mannar town, 6,631 displaced persons were released. Each of the released were given Sri Lankan Rs. 5,000 in cash, a savings bank account worth Sri Lanka Rs. 20,000, 6 months of ration and emergency kit with roofing and bed sheets.
“The idea is to enable people return to normal activity at the earliest. The Government would do all it could to facilitate people back to normal life”, a senior Government official said.
As per the Resettlement and Rehabilitation Ministry of the 41,685 released on Thursday 8,643 persons were from 2,583 families in Vavuniya, 6,631 displaced from 2,644 families in Mannar, 16,394 persons from 4,415 families in Mullaithivu and 10,017 people from 2,453 families from the Kilinochchi districts.
Earlier this week Sri Lanka President had constituted an 11-member team comprising Ministers and parliamentarians to “accelerate the development and resettlement process” in the Jaffna district.
The task of the team is to identify the urgent problems and issues in the respective divisions and take measures to resolve them and uplift the living standards of the people.
At its first meeting in Jaffna presided over by Social Welfare Minister Douglas Devananda, Power Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage had said out of the 35,000 war displaced from Jaffna district, 17,000 had been re-settled in their original villages and steps would be taken to resettle the remaining persons soon.
Mr. Aluthgamage told the meeting that the people re-settled in Jaffna had requested that their relatives residing in Vavuniya welfare camps be sent back to live with them and added that steps would be taken to heed to their request.