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Sri Lanka shuts war-time refugee camps

September 25, 2012 17:53 IST

Sri Lanka on Tuesday shut down Menik Farm, one of the largest refugee camps in world which once housed 300,000 Tamils displaced during the country's decade-long ethnic war which ended in 2009.

With the resettlement of the last group of Internally Displaced People in the Northern region's Mullaitivu district the Menik Farm in Vavuniya would be closed today, a top military official said on Thursday.

"A total of 1,186 people from 361 families -- the last of a group of more than 300,000 displaced during the war in the north -- will leave the Vavuniya Manik Farm to their original places of residence in the Mullaitivu district," Security

Forces Commander Boniface Perera, who is the Competent Authority for IDPs in the northern region, told Daily Mirror.

"There will be no more IDPs in the country from today."

Welcoming the move, the UN's refugee agency said, "This is a milestone event towards ending a chapter of displacement in Sri Lanka some three years after the civil war which ended in May 2009."

"But there are still some people who are unable to return to their homes and a solution urgently needs to be found," said the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Sri Lanka, Subinay Nandy.

A statement said that the UN was concerned about 346 people (110 families) who are returning from Menik Farm to Kepapilavu in Mullaitivu District, who are unable to return to their homes which are occupied by the military.

Instead, they are being relocated to state land where they await formal confirmation about what is happening to their land in the future, and plans for compensation if they cannot return.

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