SL Camps – “get civilians out”
The UK says it will soon withdraw all but emergency funding for the camps where about 250,000 displaced Tamils are confined in northern Sri Lanka.
The announcement came after the UK Development Minister Mike Foster visited the biggest camp at Menik Farm.
He said 70% of people should be able to leave and stay with host families.
Britain urged Sri Lanka yesterday to free 250,000 Tamils detained in camps since the defeat of the Tamil Tigers in May, warning that an outbreak of disease triggered by imminent monsoon rains could claim dozens of lives.
Mike Foster, the Minister for International Development who is visiting Sri Lanka, also said that Britain would no longer provide any funding for the controversial barbed wire enclosures once the monsoon was over in two months.
He added that many other donor countries were taking a similar position to put pressure on the Government to release the 250,000 Tamils who were detained after fleeing the frontline in the last stages of the 26-year-civil war.
Vatican Radio – Calls for Sri Lankan Government to release Tamil refugees
Religious leaders in Sri Lanka committed to helping Tamil refugees have demanded that President Mahinda Rajapaksa release the over 200 thousand internally displaced people from refugee camps where they continue to suffer hardship and isolation.
Bishop Thomas Savandaryanagam of the Jaffna Diocese says that the government’s efforts are slow, but priests and sisters are able to offer some hope to refugees living in the camps suffering from a isolation and idleness.
More than 2,000 temporary shelters for civilians displaced in Sri Lanka’s recently-ended ethnic war were destroyed by gale force winds, a press report said Sunday.
The damaged shelters were part of camps where 250,000 people remain detained after government troops defeated the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in May, the Sunday Times here said.
The storm damage increased concern for the welfare of the Tamil civilians who have endured primitive conditions in the state-run camps, the newspaper said.
In Sri Lanka, local media are reporting that more than 2,000 temporary shelters for civilians displaced in Sri Lanka’s ethnic war have been destroyed by gale force winds.
Sri Lankan army spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara says however, there’s no evidence of widespread destruction to temporary shelters, he says the reports emerged as a result of exaggerations and lies.
The reports are difficult to verify, because reporters have been barred from entering the camps and the army has granted only limited access to aid organisations. An estimated 250-thousand people have been living in government-run camps and not allowed to leave, since Sri Lanka’s army defeated the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in May.
A quarter of million displaced Tamils are in dire humanitarian need of being allowed out of internment camps which face flash floods in Sri Lanka‘s monsoons, a British minister said after visiting refugees.
Mike Foster, a British international development minister, said he had been allowed unfettered access to the Manik Farm camp in the country’s northern Vavuniya district, which Tamil war refugees cannot freely leave.
“There’s a pressing humanitarian need for the civilians to be allowed to leave the camps,” said Foster. “Although conditions have improved the tents are basically disintegrating. With the monsoons we will have sewage floating around – water-borne diseases will be rife.
“We will not be prepared to fund closed camps after the monsoons.”
Western governments have finally discovered what remains of their backbone over Sri Lanka.
Britain told the Sri Lankan Government today that it would no longer fund routine services inside the camps where more than a quarter of a million ethnic Tamils have been detained since the defeat of the Tamil Tigers in May.
Mike Foster, the Minister for International Development, who is visiting Sri Lanka, said that many other donor nations were taking a similar stand to put pressure on the Government to release the inmates before the imminent monsoon rains, which could cause a massive outbreak of disease in the overcrowded conditions.