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Sri Lanka: Amnesty calls for detention camps to be unlocked

[MISC, Monday, 10 August 2009 11:19 No Comment]

Equivalent of Bournemouth’s population live, eat and sleep in area size of Wembley Stadium

Amnesty International today called for the immediate release of 285,000 innocent civilians – including an estimated 50,000 children – being held in cramped and squalid camps in the north of Sri Lanka.

The camps – each surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by security forces – were set up during the recent Government offensive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, commonly known as the Tamil Tigers.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

‘The largest camp – Menik Farm – is horrendous. It holds about 160,000 people in an area smaller than one square kilometre. That’s like the entire population of Bournemouth having to live, eat and sleep in an area the size of Wembley Stadium.

‘The people we are talking about here are doctors, teachers, farmers – ordinary people with ordinary lives. Yet, they are being held in horrendous conditions for no reason other than that they previously lived in areas held by the Tamil Tigers.

‘There is a lack of running water, limited access to toilets and restricted communication with the outside world.

‘Aid workers in the camps are not even allowed to talk to the residents of the camp. These are innocent people being treated in the most inhumane way.’

Amnesty International is calling on the Sri Lankan government to:

* immediately end the detention of civilians by lifting restrictions on displaced persons leaving the confines of the camps
* grant immediate, full and unimpeded humanitarian access to the camps, permitting the supply of food, water and medical assistance
* commit to the eventual closure of all the camps

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