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IDPs swimming in human excreta

[The Sunday Leader.lk, Sunday, 16 August 2009 09:58 No Comment]

Torrential rains in Vavuniya Friday burst temporary sewage pipes, destroyed make-shift shelters and trapped thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) interned in Menik Farm in Vavuniya causing many of them to undergo severe difficulties as rain waters filled with sewage matter, maggots and human excreta rose in tents sheltering some 20,000 IDPs.

Reports reaching The Sunday Leader yesterday said that IDPs particularly in Zone 3 and Zone 4 of Menik Farm were seriously affected as poorly constructed drainage pipes caused severe flooding within the area.

The situation caused panic and while turmoil raged the Government moved in additional military personnel fearing large numbers of IDPs would escape the barbed wire camps.

The Sunday Leader has over the last three months consistently highlighted serious concerns raised by humanitarian agencies who pointed out that flooding was possible in these camps due to badly constructed drainage and sewer pipes.

Jeevan Thiyagarajah, Head of the Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies (CHA) told The Sunday Leader that apart from inadequate sanitation facilities and tents meant for an emergency only would also collapse in the event of heavy rains.  “My predictions have been proved right,” he said last evening. 

Thiyagarajah in fact two months ago threatened court action if the tents were not de-congested.

Government officials yesterday confirmed that of some 20,000 IDPs facing this horrendous situation only around 1,000 had been relocated to other locations within Menik Farm.

Vavuniya Government Agent, P.S.M. Charles told The Sunday Leader that around 400 people in Zone 4 of Menik Farm were on low level grounds and faced more risks than the others in the camp.

“Around 1,000 persons have been shifted to locations within the camp premises. The problem in Zone 4 is that the drainage system could not be completed on time. These 400 persons are on lower level ground. Therefore, they face more problems and would have to be shifted to another location if rain continues,” she said yesterday.

She said the government continued to supply them with food and essential items.

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