Sri Lanka sets deadline for resettlement of displaced people | world | Hindustan Times
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Sri Lanka sets deadline for resettlement of displaced people

world Updated: Jun 03, 2010 17:48 IST

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The Sri Lankan government has issued a new deadline to resettle tens of thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) who are still living in camps.

More than 60,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) continue to live in three government camps, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has said.

The new Minister of Resettlement, Milroy Fernando, told IRIN an August deadline was "realistic" and that the process would be expedited to ensure people could return home as soon as possible.

"There was a previous deadline of April but that was not feasible," Fernando said, describing the process as a "top priority" for the nation.

"A lot of work has been concluded post-elections, including reconstruction of homes and the introduction of several livelihood assistance programmes. The new deadline is therefore realistic," he said.

Among his ministry's top priorities was to go beyond resettlement and initiate livelihood support mechanisms for the displaced, he said.

"To facilitate resettlement, the de-mining process too is being expedited. People are so keen to return home. But as a responsible government, we simply cannot allow people to return to their original villages before the completion of the de-mining work.

"People are very eager to go back to their own villages but we prevent those wanting to return to areas that are still uncleared," he said.

"We are currently making some plans to resettle and offer livelihood support in their original villages. To boost their livelihoods, the ministry now offers fishing gear and agricultural equipment for identified persons," he said.