Human Rights and Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe yesterday said that the government had released 22,668 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from the camps in the Wanni. Of them, 10,593 had been resettled. 12,075 were released on special grounds, including medical needs, over 60 years old, Court orders, possessing foreign passports, university students, persons who were willing to be hosted by families, pregnant mothers and religious leaders.
Addressing a Press Conference at the Presidential Secretariat, Minister Samarasinghe said that there were 19,625 families whose members had been scattered, but reunited in the IDP camps.
`There were several LTTE cadres among the IDPs in these camps. Some of them had surrendered and others were identified by the security forces. The Government made all arrangement to rehabilitate 9,818 LTTE cadre in coordination with 13 relevant Ministries. Some countries were willing to provide facilities to rehabilitate them.
There was a special meeting scheduled for last evening to brief donors on the rehabilitation process.
The Minister said that the government was providing all facilities to the IDP camps to minimize and prevent the possible threats from the monsoon rains. The rains are expected from October to December.
`Under the presidential task force, a special drainage system was being set up within the IDP camps to prevent flooding. The work on the drainage system would be completed within the next few days, contrary to what some politicians claim that the government was not yet ready to prevent camps being flooded in the event of heavy rains, the Minister said. We have done a lot of work. I assure that the IDPs will be protected from monsoon rains,` Samarasinghe said.
The government had designed a special identity card for IDPs which was now available. There are 178,000 IDPs registered for these ID cards and upto now 150,000 cards have been issued.
Secretary to the Ministry of Human Rights and Disaster Management, former head of the Peace Secretariat Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha said that some sections of media had reported that there was shooting inside the Menik Farm IDP camp on September 26, a day after the visit of the UN special envoy. `There is a special investigation launched by the Army and the Police into the incident.
`Some sections of the media said the security forces opened fire when some IDPs tried to escape. Its not true. The government has allowed the IDPs to cross from one camps to another. Security forces have recorded the names of those who crossed from one camp top another. On September 26, there was a massive queue and people panicked. Two soldiers fired into the air. However, two soldiers and two others involved in the incident were produced before the Vavuniya Magistrate s Court and released on bail. The investigations are continuing,` Prof. Wijesinghe said.
Foreign Secretary Romesh Jayasinghe, Director General of the Media Centre for National Security Lakshman Hulugalle and Military Spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara also attended the conference.