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* Sri Lanka to continue resettlement of IDPs amid general election campaigns
Sat, Feb 27, 2010, 09:34 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Feb 27, Colombo: Sri Lankan government says the resettlement of displaced civilians in the Northern Province will not be hampered or delayed due to the preparations for the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The government will expedite the resettlement of the remaining 70,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in welfare camps, the Minister of Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services Rishad Bathiyudeen said today.

"The forthcoming polls will not hinder our activities in the north to resettle people in welfare camps," the Minister asserted.

Presidential Advisor on North-East Development, Chandra Fernando said yesterday that IDPs displaced from their original residences in the Mannar district would be resettled by April.

According to the Office of the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Sri Lanka resettlement was delayed particularly in Vavuniya North earlier this month due to a shortage of tin roofing sheets.

The resettlement of IDPs from the Menik Farm and Mannar camps picked up again at the beginning of this month to Oddusudan, Thunukkai and Manthai East (in Mullaitivu District), Manthai West and Madhu (in Mannar District), Vavuniya North (in Vavuniya District).

De-mining began in the Maritme Pattu Divisional Secretariat area of the Mullaitivu district yesterday while demining activities in the Oddusudan Division are nearing completion. Military Spokesman Prasad Samarasinghe said the de-mining in the northern battlefields had been accelerated with over 1,000 Army de-miners and some NGO de-miners to clear the land of thousands of anti personnel mines buried by the fleeing rebels.

As mine action operations continue, more returns are planned in the coming weeks, including to new areas east of the A9, the UNHCR office.

Minister Bathiyudeen said the government intends to resettle the IDPs as soon as possible.

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