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  • » 06/19/2009, 00.00


    The tragedy of refugees in Sri Lanka, hidden from the eyes of the world

    Nirmala Carvalho

    There is still no precise data on the number of people living in the centres. Colombo media do not speak of the plight of the internally displaced persons. An operator allowed into the Chettikulam camp states: “The Colombo government is only concerned with one thing: finding remaining members of the LTTE and killing them”.

    Mumbai (AsiaNews) - “Small children are suffering malnutrition and a lack of medicines.  There are young girls who are pregnant, between 17 and 19 years of age, in need of care… the government has no capacity at all to handle this massive problem, no news so far has come out in the news papers in Sri Lanka, the rest of the nation is kept in dark regarding the situation of the refugees”.

    This is how a social worker recently describes the situation for the internally displaced persons (Idp) held in the refugee camp in Chettikulam 12 kilometres from Vavuniya to AsiaNews. He had visited the camp before (see AsiaNews 05/06/2009) and now he says: “some of our friends returned there yesterday and report that the situation is still serious”.

    Prasanna – a pseudonym to protect his anonymity – says that in Chettikulam there are more than 300 thousand people and added to that number, refugees who live in smaller camps dotted around the area of Mannar and Jaffna. But he adds that “there is still no data on the precise number of the refugees”.

    “No one speaks of the IDPs – says Prasanna - not a single photo is allowed out of the camp,  no papers write anything about it,   people do not know about the great tragedy is going on in their country”.

    The social worker appeals to the international community, “and in particular to the Indian government”, to show greater concern for the plight of the refugees.  “The only interest of the Colombo government - says Prasanna - is to find more Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam members who are living in the camp and kill them”.

    UNHCR has taken satellite photos of the area occupied by the Chettikulam camp, “an immense area subdivided into different and separate zones”, the AsiaNews source explains. “The military brought us to one are and told us to help the people there.  We have not been allowed to visit other zones.  The area is so vast that it is impossible to estimate how many people are being held there”.


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    See also

    25/05/2010 SRI LANKA
    War heroes week divides Sri Lanka
    Floods delay war heroes week, organized by the government to celebrate their defeat of the Tamil Tigers which claimed the lives of tens of thousands of civilians. According to Christian leaders, the people are still far from reconciliation and events like this contribute to widening the gap between Sinhalese and Tamil.

    19/08/2009 SRI LANKA
    Sri Lanka: monsoon hits refugee camps, risk of disease and deaths
    The first rains have damaged or destroyed 2 thousand shelters: 10 thousand people without shelter or sanitation. The most affected centre is Manik Farm in which around 280 thousand refugees are housed. Five deaths and latrines out of use with the risk of pollution of drinking water and the spread of diseases.

    15/10/2009 SRI LANKA
    Rajapaksa promises 58 thousand Tamil refugees will go home within 15 days
    The government in Colombo to ensure the resettlement of a quarter of the refugees to a parliamentary delegation from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The Tamil-language newspapers say that the group of politicians criticized the actions of the government. State media report the delegation was satisfied with the refugee situation.

    09/11/2015 SRI LANKA
    Life and Tamil despair in Sri Lanka’s refugee camps (video)
    Some 30,000 people remain internally displaced in northern Sri Lanka. Some 38 refugee camps accommodate 1,536 families. A displaced Tamil talks ​​about life in the Neethavan camp, on the Jaffna Peninsula. Each shelter is home to 2-3 families, or 10-15 people, without electricity and poor sanitation. Security remains a problem. Video shows conditions in the Konatpulam Tamil refugee camp.

    28/05/2009 SRI LANKA
    UN gives full backing to President Rajapaksa
    The United Nations Human Rights Council has approved a resolution in favour of the government of Sri Lanka: army is no longer accused of war crimes; the conflict was an “internal question that did not justify external interference”. Access to refugee camps for Humanitarian Organisations will take place as Colombo government “sees fit”.

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