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Updated: October 22, 2009 11:33 IST

India happy with Sri Lanka on resettlement: Kaur

PTI
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Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur
PTI Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur

India is satisfied with the steps taken by Sri Lanka to rehabilitate more than 2.5 lakh refugees displaced by the three-decade long conflict in the country's north, the Minister of State for External Affairs, Preneet Kaur, has said.

"We are happy with the progress and we are insisting that they progress faster," Ms. Kaur told journalists here during her official visit.

Underlining that the rainy season would begin in a day or two, she appealed to Colombo to take swift action on the humanitarian work.

Slow progress in rehabilitating over 250,000 internally displaced persons had led to strong international criticism for human rights violations on the part of Sri Lankan government.

Months after the army defeated the LTTE in the northeastern part of the country, Tamil refugees continue to live in make-shift camps.

Previously, New Delhi had criticised Sri Lanka for not doing enough to resettle the refugees despite the substantive financial assistance from India.

Ms. Kaur described the 10-member parliamentary delegation's recent meeting with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa as "successful".

However, Thol Thirumavalavan, the leader of Viduthali Chiruthaigal Katchi, belatedly took a different stand from the rest of the delegation calling for sanctions.

"No one can tolerate the sufferings of Tamils in the camps. I am at a loss to understand why countries, including India, continue to be mere spectators to this tragedy," he said.

Ms. Kaur, however, maintained that Colombo was sticking to its promise that internally displaced Tamils would be rehabilitated within 180 days, and this would be followed by initiating democratic process for the local governments.

"We are happy to note that that on the 16th itself (the day she was in Sri Lanka) there were 2500 refugees were sent back and within a week they were planning to send back 50,000.....I believe they are doing it," she said.

India had already given Rs. 500 crores for humanitarian assistance to Sri Lanka, and set up a hospital in the town Vavuniya, which is staffed with 60 persons that has performed over 20,000 surgeries.

More aid is on the way, according to Ms. Kaur, who declared that New Delhi will be committing another Rs. 500 crores.

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