Sri Lanka sets January deadline to settle war-displaced

September 18, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse promised the United Nations on Friday that he will resettle all war-displaced civilians by January, his office said. Rajapakse made the pledge during talks with the UN undersecretary-general for political affairs Lynn Pascoe, who is here to follow up on Colombo’s previous pledge to return at least 80 percent of the displaced by December.

“With the new (de-mining) equipment in use, and hopefully more to come, we expect the entire resettlement to be completed by the end of next January,” he told Pascoe, Rajapakse’s office said.

There was no immediate comment from the UN, which has been pressing for an early return of some 300,000 people who were displaced during fighting between troops and Tamil separatists in the island’s north where clashes ended in May.