Home » News

Monsoon Rains Hit Sri Lankan Tamil Refugees in Camps

[Bloomberg, Monday, 17 August 2009 08:44 No Comment]

Monsoon rains hit northern Sri Lanka affecting camps where more than 280,000 mostly Tamil refugees remain after the defeat of the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in May.

The rains inundated camps in Vanni and other regions, Minister of Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services Rishad Bathiudeen said today in a telephone interview from the capital, Colombo. He blamed United Nations agencies for failing to build drainage systems at the camps.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees is in the “process of collecting more information about the situation on the ground,” Sulakshani Perera, a spokeswoman for the agency said in a phone interview from Colombo.

The UN and U.S. are pressing the Sri Lankan government to resettle the refugees as quickly as possible, saying the camps are overcrowded and lack basic services. President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government says, while it aims to have all displaced people returned to their homes by December, it needs to ensure the region is secure and cleared of mines.

Health officials met at the weekend to discuss emergency measures in case of flooding at the camps, the government’s Media Center for National Security said on its Web site.

“The government has shifted many of the people to safer areas and is providing food and health-care facilities,” Bathiudeen said.

Health Risk

Tents have been flooded and there is a health risk from overflowing sanitation systems, TamilNet, a Web site that gives reports from the Tamil perspective, cited unidentified local aid officials as saying.

Thousands of civilians fled fighting in January when the military began an offensive to drive the rebels from their bases in northern Sri Lanka.

The army defeated the LTTE’s last units in a battle near the northeastern port of Mullaitivu in May, killing the group’s leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and his commanders and ending its 26-year fight for a separate Tamil homeland in the north and east of the nation.

LTTE terrorists are masquerading as civilians and living among the refugees in camps, Defense Minister Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said in an interview with Sri Lanka’s daily Island newspaper, according to its Web site today.

Arms, Ammunition

Arms, ammunition and explosives remain buried in parts of Vanni and the rebels will resume attacks if they get hold of the weapons, he said. The opposition and a section of the press have conveniently forgotten that the LTTE collapsed only three months ago, he added.

The rehabilitation of more than 10,000 former LTTE members has begun in the north, the Defense Ministry said yesterday, citing Major General Daya Ratnayake, the officer in charge of the program.

“The process to classify the ex-cadres into different groups considering their age, gender and involvement in the outfit has already been completed and the ground work to move them into new rehabilitation centers is nearing completion,” the ministry cited the general as saying in a newspaper interview. About 80 percent of the former rebels are being held temporarily in schools, he said.

[Full Coverage]

(For updates you can share with your friends, follow TNN on Facebook, Twitter and Google+)

Comments are closed.