Shackles off Tamil refugees in Lanka

Over 6,700 internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in camps in north Sri Lanka on Tuesday availed of freedom of movement granted by the island government, the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) said.

The government had said that from December 1, the 150,000 IDPs still living in camps would be free to move in and out of the camps, and that by January 31, 2010, all refugees would be resettled in their villages and the camps would be closed.

P S M Charles, government agent for Vavuniya, which has the biggest camps, told Express that the authorities had given gate passes to those who wanted to go out. To get the passes all that the IDPs were expected to tell was the anticipated period of stay outside, he added. “And they can go anywhere, even to Colombo,” Charles said and added they could also return to the camp at anytime.

“Some went out just for a part of the day while some said they would be away for five or six days,” she said.

The official said it was a pretty sight when 300 colourful umbrellas opened up as the refugees began their trek out of the camps to get into buses that would take them to Kilinochchi in the former war zone.

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