Sri Lanka’s camp inmates free to leave Tuesday: official

November 30, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lanka will Tuesday allow thousands of civilians to leave state-run camps where they have been detained since the military’s victory over Tamil Tiger separatist rebels, a senior official said. About 128,000 men, women and children who were displaced during the final stages of the conflict remain in heavily guarded military camps in Vavuniya district, 260 kilometres (160 miles) north of Colombo.

“There will be no restrictions on displaced people from December 1. They have to inform the army post they are leaving and can come and go as they wish,” N. Thirugnanasampanther, a civil servant in Vavuniya, said Monday.

Many of the detainees face a difficult task returning to their villages hundreds of miles (kilometres) away, and officials said they would not receive state assistance for their journeys.

Thirugnanasampanther said resettlement work was on schedule as authorities step up mine clearing work in the former combat zone.

Under intense international pressure, the government has promised to close the camps by the end of January.