Rajapaksa assures Tamil MPs of resettling displaced civiliansJune 9th, 2010 - 10:44 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, June 9 (IANS) Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa Wednesday assured a delegation of Tamil MPs that the displaced civilians living in refugee camps in the island-nation will be resettled by the year end.
A delegation of Tamil MPs from the DMK and the Congress met Rajapaksa, who is currently on a four-day visit to India. Rajapaksa arrived in India Tuesday evening.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, an MP, who was a member of the delegation, said that the Sri Lankan president assured them that all possible steps would be taken to resettle Sri Lankan Tamils.
The 14-member delegation was led by DMK leader and Minister for Shipping and Transport T.R. Baalu. It included three Congress leaders, including senior party leader Mani Shankar Aiyar, Sudarshan Nachiappan and 11 members from DMK, including M.K. Kanimozhi, T.K.S. Elangovan and E.G. Sukavanam.
The delegation urged Rajapaksa to resettle the Tamils, displaced by the military offensive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) that ended in May last year, as early as possible.
The delegation pointed out that nearly 80,000 Tamils are currently languishing in various camps in northern Sri Lanka.
Countering the point, Rajapaksa said that only 54,000 Tamils were still living in camps. Of these, he said, 36,000 have their own shelters and only 28,000 are remaining to be resettled.
Assuring the delegation that the Sri Lankan government was concerned about the plight of Tamils in the country, Rajapaksa said that the refugees will be resettled by December.
The Sri Lankan government had promised to resettle all 300,000 war displaced within six months of defeating the LTTE. It later set an August deadline for closure of relief camps housing the refugees.
The president said that the delay had been caused due to the presidential and parliamentary elections held this year.
He added that the government is committed to implementing the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution under the 1987 Indo-Sri Lanka accord, which envisages devolution of powers.
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