Lanka government to release 130,000 Tamil refugees from Dec. 1

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Colombo, Nov.23 (ANI): Nearly six months after Sri Lanka's 26-year civil war came to an end, the government has announced plans to finally close the controversial civilian internment camps. The detainees will be allowed freedom of movement starting on December 1 and the camps will be permanently closed by January 31, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

The first phase of the agreement will grant the internees the right to leave the camp next month to visit friends and family outside the internment area. By the end of January, the government plans to have everyone resettled, reports The Scotsman.

Aside from weeding out rebels, the government said it also had to clear mines and repair infrastructure before the displaced people could be allowed to return to their homes.

Pressure had been mounting around the globe, as the international community rallied for an end to the camps. The United Nations, one of the most vocal critics of the camps, praised the decision.

In a statement delivered through a UN spokesperson, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon lauded the Lankan government's decision.

"The Secretary-General urges the Government of Sri Lanka to continue to work with the UN and other humanitarian partners to improve the quality of the returns process, including through consultation with the IDPs [internally displaced personsthemselves, and to ensure the best possible assistance and services to returnees," the statement said. (ANI)

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