The United Nations (U.N.) has asked Sri Lanka to resettle the Internally Displaced People (IDPs) before the monsoon season hits the country.
During his meetings with the Prime Minister, Ratnasiri Wickramanyake, on the sidelines of the opening session of the General Assembly here, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon also highlighted the lack of freedom for IDPs and poor camp conditions.
“He (Ban) emphasised once again how important it was to get people out of the camps quickly particularly with the monsoons coming,” Lynn Pascoe, U.N. official on political affairs said.
“He again pressed for a political resolution as well as accountability,” Mr. Pascoe added.
Mr. Wickramanyake told Mr. Ban that Colombo was committed to resettle all the IDPS by January, and noted that international assistance was needed in the area of demining.
On the January deadline, Mr. Pascoe said “This is ambitious but we’re going to push very hard, we continue to push very hard. The visit there last week of Walter Kalin (U.N. Envoy for IDPs) was very good and positive in this regard.”
The Secretary-General also underlined the importance of reconciliation with the people of the Northern Sri Lanka and the need for accountability for violations of international law during the conflict.
More than 280,000 IDPs continue to live in camps since May, after the Sri Lankan army defeated the Tamil rebels in a two-decade long civil war.
The Sri Lankan leaders said that efforts were being made to shape an inclusive political framework through close engagement with minority representatives such as the Tamil National Alliance.
A recent incident involving a clash between the security forces and IDPs that resulted in gun shot injuries of two children on Manik Farm was also discussed at the meeting.
“It is the kind of thing that boils over in a camp if it is overcrowded. Manik farm is definitely overcrowded,” Mr. Pascoe said, asking the Security Council to discuss the issue.
“The need is to be thinning it out, the need to get people out of that camp very quickly,” he added.
Last week, Indian Foreign Minister S. M. Krishna also met his Sri Lankan counterpart, Rohitha Bogollagama, in New York, on the sidelines of a Climate Change Summit, and discussed the issue of the resettlement.
“They have told us that the process of demining is going,” Mr. Krishna told PTI, adding that India has asked for greater devolution of political power to regional governments, which is also what the Lankan Tamils want. s